The Green Sheaf – Pamela Colman Smith

Today’s reading of The Green Sheaf prompted a really interesting conversation. Though the periodical is incredibly short (especially in comparison to other periodicals, ie. The Yellow Book), I found that it made the content more ‘digestible’. The topic of dreams and mysticism within the texts and artworks was almost as interesting as the biography of the publisher and editor, Pamela Colman Smith. She uses really bright and eccentric colors in her paintings, and she often uses the colors to create a juxtaposing rainbow within all her pieces. In one of her paintings, she outlines figures floating outside of a church, they are all in a yellow robe with rose embroidery on the bottom. The greenery in the bottom right of the image is a deep green, and it’s next to the light violet background. Every part of this image is bright and filled with color, and there is no white space being used. This lack of white space presents such a contrast to some of the other images that were published in other periodicals, most notably  Aubery Beadsley’s artwork in The Yellow Book. Further, learning that she had synthesis disorder makes me believe that her condition was really impactful in how she chose her color and artistic style. 

Pamela Colman Smith is a transatlantic, black, and queer artist during the Victorian era, and I have seen very few influential and empowered figures that have this intersecting and marginalized identity. It is really refreshing to be able to analyze and study content that is not made by white contributors because I found that in the periodicals that we have studied so far, there are very few non-white creators being represented.