A Memorial to Colin Ward, From a Fan

By Josiah Hesse


Illustration by Lonnie MF Allen


We all work so hard to create transcendent art,
while you were a walking sculpture,
oozing beauty and obnoxious charm,
a priceless gallery piece in the medium of human biology.
You seemed a helpless captive to the
high voltage current of inspiration,
effortlessly stealing hearts and eyeballs with your wizardry.

Or maybe I’m wrong about that.
I didn’t know you that well.

I watched you often, though.

On stage at an underground arts festival in 2007.
Mixing beats that grated and scathed,
dancing like an epileptic giraffe
in an oversized Cosby sweater.

Busking on the street in 2010.
Drumming on plastic buckets
like your life depended on it.
(Maybe it did?)

Interviewing you in 2012.
I was nervous and inexperienced,
and asked you when you began making art.
It began when I was born. Or before.
Or scratch that it just began five minutes ago.
Or maybe it will begin tomorrow, or in like an hour.”

Wandering through Fantasia later that week,
my senses molested by the immersive art show
you’d co-created at Rhinoceropolis.

Watching you perform at Fantasia in 2014.
Ripping your shirt apart and pouring yellow
paint down your back.
That homemade haircut reaching like
poisoned thorns from your scalp.
Short and sexy. Seducing multitudes into the now.

Later that year you approached me at City, O’ City.
You asked me if I thought Fantasia would have
a chance at becoming a well-funded art show,
something big and ambitious, in a mainstream venue,
where dozens of DIY artists could build large scale installations.

I told you I didn’t think the city would allow that,
that it was possible to get funding for art projects
that use dumpstered materials.
I felt like an idiot when Meow Wolf came to town.

Did you know that Meow Wolf had accepted your pitch?
Everything you told me that day in 2014 could’ve happened.

How dark did it get, Colin?
Nevermind. I don’t need to know that.

Did you see the art show/memorial your friends put together?
Your sculptures, videos, music, paintings, clothing screamed
like a choir of jazz chickens.

That show looked like a retrospective of someone
with a career twice as long as yours.
You must’ve lived with a relentless hunger for expression.
You must’ve lived 100 years inside of 27.

Did you fly too close to the sun, Colin?
Was this the cost of aggressively pursuing
the boundaries of aesthetics and consciousness?

I hope not, because I was seduced by your urgency,
and remain enamored with the fantasies you brought to life.

“Dance is life, or life is a dance,” you once told me.
“Including, but not limited, to dancing with pretty girls.
Sometimes I am the pretty girl that I am dancing with.”


Author of the psychological horror novel Carnality: Dancing on Red Lake, and regular contributor to VICE and The Guardian, Hesse aims to blend journalism and the arts within the pages of Suspect Press, making it both a reflection of our time and an innovative force of creativity.

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