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The Non-Artist

—for Lanny Sommese

Don’t ever call him an artist…
His saga begins in Illinois, May 1943— specifically East Moline
He evolved in the midst of two siblings—
In school, he was good at science and great in math
Which ultimately led to his collegiate path.
Terrific in track, but even better at basketball—
awards with the Florida Gators and all.
Then he met Kristen— a daughter, and a son they had
She was not only his life partner, but creative comrade.
Together they designed and had their work displayed
Peculiar portraits portraying politics and plays.
Art wasn’t his thing…
He took art in school— his favorite subject no doubt.
See he didn’t just paint pictures, he peddled in politics.
Creatively capturing communism and condemning corruption—
Using his X-Ray Vision to see through sexism, and systemic structures 
set up to suppress;
Masterpieces that dismantled misogyny
Child, Lanny is a WorldMaster,
He didn’t really do art…
Art is meant to be interpreted. His work, well— it just is!
Visual metaphors like Romeo & Juliet or A Fool’s Game,
Hired as the head of Graphic Design in 1971 at Penn State.
From environmental issues to human rights, his points became bolder—
Optical allegories like Rape Line that inspired 
the Precious movie poster.
He didn’t have to sculpt figurines— his process was silk screen—
Even the Library of Congress is lined with his intense ideologies.
He wasn’t an artist…
What he did was “beyond art” he said, “it’s a mental understanding.”
Again and again, he had a point to make— 
not just Arts Fest posters to create.
It didn’t matter if he drew sockets sticking out the brain, or bolted hands,
Whether he was capturing gun violence, covering 9/11, 
or Death of a Salesman
He was an architect of social ideas.
Posters painted with political statements—
“Co-existence: A Bridge to Understanding” was one message.
Sketches of symbolism displayed at the White House,
Original outlines overtaking Hart Circle & Municipal Buildings,
Expressive exhibitions— marvelous motifs mounted
Dauntless designs drawn to depict dichotomy
He was never an artist…
Lanny is— “A Designer.”

©2022 by Tierra D. Williams