25 Jan Jacki Kellum Cotton Plants Are Memories of Home
I grew up in a tiny town in the Bootheel Region of Southeast Missouri, and although I rarely get back to that area now, my feelings about living in a rural, country farm town and about picking cotton as a child are the thoughts that sustain me. Like everything else in life, there are good and bad things about growing up in a tiny town, and some of the things were both bad and good.
My community was so tiny that every kind was needed for everything that happened in our school. For example, I was a cheerleader, but I was also in the marching band. I believe that most of the cheerleaders were in the band and the football players, too. Every kid was needed to perform a half-time show, and as soon as the whistle blew, alerting us that it was half-time, all of us cheerleaders would grab our instruments [which we had hidden beneath a bleacher seat], and we would run to the end of the field, and we’d march and toot our horns, and the show would go on.
There would be no time for the cheerleaders to change clothes for the half-time performance, and we would simply march in our cheerleading uniforms. I may be mistaken, but I believe that some of the football players marched, too. You’ve got it: they marched with their cleats and pads, and none of us even suspected that this was unusual.
The funny thing is that I was a terrible musician. I NEVER practiced. I played the piccolo, and there was no way to strap my music to my piccolo. Therefore, I simply memorized a few trills and when the music got loud and exciting, I’d fill the air with melodic vibratos, and I don’t believe that anyone knew that I was not the band member that I preteneded I was.
This past year, my old school friend and former pro baseball player Mark Littell asked me to draw some things for the book that he was writing about his childhood in the Bootheel, and one of the first things that I wanted to draw was cotton. I wanted to draw it just the way that I remembered it–with needle-sharp hulls and cotton bolls that were so big and hard that, when hurled at an opponent, they could inflict serious pain.
I am not one to mince words. I have masters degrees both in art and in writing, and I have written tomes that relate many of my memories about cotton and my home. In 2015, I wrote a short free verse snippet that I feel distils my feelings about my rural homeland and about the way that my listtle cotton-farmng town is only a shadow now of what it used to be.
Cotton Child – Jacki Kellum Written in 2015
My childhood was determined by Cotton, and my calendar was punctuated by the various stages of its growth cycle. The winter was slow and quiet. Spring was an awakening, and summer was a time of growth. During fall, the roads were lined with trailers being pulled by tractors. In ant-like procession, they were going to and coming from the gins. Living became the everyday humming of the harvesting of cotton.
The river ebbed and flowed, and the air was filled with gossamer-like lint, floating from the cotton compresses. Like spider’s work, it attached itself to trees, poles, and other things nearby. Gauzy and ghostly, the lint-webs were warning us, hinting what would come.
But while Cotton flourished, his people flowered, too. No one even realized that Cotton was the King–until Time took his throne. Now. his towns are shadows–his spectre-like people, silhouettes. Life itself was boarded shut: stone-stagnant, cold-condemned. and left gasping.
I still have my cotton clock, it ticks my cotton song–Out on the pavement, holding a tin cup, crying: “I am still a cotton-child, a child that lost my home.”
©Jacki Kellum October 7, 2015 – Cotton Child
You can buy art prints of my Cotton Plant at Harvest in our Jacki Kellum Studios Shop at Fine Art America. The prints are sold either as stretched canvas prints or as paper prints that can be framed or not.
In the above image, you see my colored pencil drawing of cotton printed on canvas that is stretched on a wooden frame. You can buy the colored pencil prints as small as 8” or as large as 30”. In the image below, you see my graphite pencil drawing of cotton printed on canvas. You can buy those canvas prints as small as 10″ or as large as 36″
The canvas prints are delivered ready to display with hanging wires, mounting hooks, and nails.
The prints are sold either as stretched canvas prints or as paper prints that can be framed or not.
I also love the accessories that we have created, using my Sunflower with Blues Painting:
Available in 6 Sizes – Cotton or Polyester
Inserts are available
Available in 3 sizes up to 18″ x 18″
Available in 3 Sizes –
24″ x 15″ – Cotton Rope Handle
Avaoilable in 2 Sizes
Comes with a Bag