Primary Source Description 1

Located in the top right corner of a square consisting of 8 panels, David Leavitt’s panel contains very few colors.  The panels below it have a lot of red throughout them, but this panel does not have any colors that stand out in such a way. The color scheme is extremely dull and somber, and the darkness of the panel is apparent at first glance. The panel is 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, according to Roddy Williams, which is the average size of the hole dug for the standard grave.

The background of the panel is one large sheet of entirely grey fabric, probably cotton, with few details on it, leaving large, blank, grey spaces throughout. On the left side of the panel in large black letters that seem to be painted on with some sort of acrylic paint is the name “David Leavitt” in all capital letters. His name is painted vertically in letters that are much larger than any other writing on the panel. His name fills the panel from top to bottom along the left-hand side, and calls focus to the name before anything else on the panel. The black color of the paint does not show any signs of fading, and the edges of the letters contain few imperfections along the smooth sides. While this may indicate that the panel is not very old, the quilt is well preserved, and this detail may speak more to the quality of care that it is given. It does not look as though a stencil was used for the lettering of the words, but the edges are so clean that the creator may as well have.

Moving towards the center of the panel are more words in the same midnight black, and although the letters are still all capitalized they are much smaller. In short, fragmented sentences read the words:

I complained about turning 30.

He said he’d be lucky to live that long.

He was right.

He didn’t.

Each sentence begins its own line on the panel, and the 4 lines of text span from left to right around the center of the panel. Every sentence is punctuated with heavy periods that contribute to the emphasis on their simplicity. The first letter of every line is directly on top of each other, but the differences in sentence length affect the position in which the writing ends depending on the line. Underneath the first two sentences which span further left to right is a gravestone which has “R.I.P.” in about the same size letters as the sentences above in the center of the gravestone, again written vertically in the same fashion as the name. Each of the letters is again followed by a period. The gravestone is not painted on as the letters were, and is instead made of felt. The front, most prominent piece of felt is white, and overlays a black piece of felt that acts as its shadow and creates an almost three-dimensional image of the headstone. The gravestone is the only sense of depth on the panel, as all other details lay flat and seem extremely two-dimensional. It is not clear how the felt is adhered to the panel, but craft glue would be the most fitting guess. The edge of the white felt has a few rough spots where the felt is not perfectly cut, but this is mostly only noticeable at a close range.

On the bottom left corner of the gravestone, are two small hand painted flowers enveloped with several blades of grass. The flowers have green stems and purple flowers, which are the only colors on the panel besides black, grey, and white. The colors of the flowers seem to pop off the panel in contrast to the other solemn colors. On the bottom righthand side of the gravestone are a few more blades of grass. All the grass on the panel is painted in one shade of apple green, and both flowers are painted in a royal purple directly onto the grey background.

To the right of the gravestone, approaching the right-hand edge of the panel are two small lines of text. The text reads “Love, Janet” with each word acting as its own line of text. The words are the same size as the sentences in the middle of the panel. There is no last name to identify who Janet is, and the relationship of the creator and David Leavitt is unclear. I googled David Leavitt hoping to find more records of him or details of his life, but was not able to find any more information than this panel itself provides.

When looking at the panel overall, the letters all have enough spacing between them that they are all clearly distinguishable from each other. All the letters are painted with brushstrokes that you can feel against the smooth grey fabric. The hand painted letters and flowers both add a touch of sincerity to the panel that otherwise seems cold.

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