Yesterday was John Sims’ birthday. Normally, he would produce a “Square Root of Love” event and ask me to come share some poetry. Unfortunately, John transitioned to a different existence on December 11 of last year, and last night, many who knew him gathered at the Historic Asolo Theatre to celebrate his life and legacy.
John called himself a math artist. He celebrated every March 14th as “Pi Day” and even created quilts, dresses, music, and other forms of art based on this number of resonance. Since math made me cry as a child because I had such a hard time understanding it, I can’t say I ever fully got what John was doing, but I appreciated his attempt to find unity and patterns in the universe.
John was also an activist. From his “Recoloration Proclomation” where he changed the colors of the confederate battle flag to demonstrating how the original should be properly hung by using a noose and gallows to proposing that historic plantations should be reconsidered to honor the slaves that died and survived there, John often used his art to help shift persepective on racism. And while he certainly recognized how the systemic racism we see today is based on the patterns of the past, John wasn’t content to merely cast his dispersions on our history of slavery and prejudice, but always sought to find patterns that could help us connect beyond what we’ve known in order to grow into what we could be.
I wish I’d gotten to know him better when I had the chance, but because he was always about bringing people together, in celebrating his legacy last night, I was given the opportunity to connect with a number of friends and acquaintances that I hadn’t seen in ages and meet people who I hope to connect with for in the future. John was only a few years older than me, but he packed a lot into those fifty-four years. I gratefully acknowledge the inspiration he provided to me, and I’m thankful that I have another day to share my own art and activism.