Lex Brown — time will come back to me
Note: This project was designed for the printed journal, our website is limited in presentation. We have printed the texts included in Lex’s piece below for legibility. For the best reading experience, order a copy here>
You are more than just shelter
to answer the question,
You sleep on my shoulder
you giant affection
And lean from the window
cut – freeze action
Growing loose like a leaf
set free from the lantern
Finding the soil
of a shelter to rest on
From melting and melting
to colder suggestion
Wind blows leaves
in the only direction
Down towards earth
home from the swelter .
The sound of your voice
the moss on a soldier.
The rest of my arms
no match for a boulder
A leaf in the midst of
its only objection
To go back to the soil
in the only direction
Alexis “Lex” Brown was born in 1989 in Oakland, California to Archie – a lifelong photographer and computer programmer – and Faith – a social scientist and national policy advisor. Her grandparents migrated from Tulsa, OK to Compton, CA and from Chicago, IL and Lincoln, PA to Ann Arbor, MI, respectively. Among Brown’s ancestors are the indigenous peoples of North America (Cherokee and Leni Lenape), African slaves, European slaveowners, free blacks, and a rumored Chinese pirate. These people worked as factory workers, land owners, preachers, singers, musicians, engineers, educators, and pirates.
Brown excelled in her studies from an early age, taking a special interest in theater, visual arts, and the English language. At the age of four, Brown and her family moved to Northern Virginia for better real estate and public school options than what California could offer. Attending Gifted & Talented classes from the second grade onward, Brown was often the only black child in the room, the structural significance of which Brown would only begin to fully comprehend in her mid-20s.
In 2004 Brown was selected to attend a magnet science high school. It was there that she deferred her dreams of becoming a stage actor, after a difficult audition for West Side Story, her favorite musical of all time. To this day, choking in the audition is her only regret. She later found success on the crew team, becoming a four-time state champion, as well as a national champion and a champion at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta. In senior year she was a co-editor of the yearbook and experienced her first spiritual crisis when the white, Evangelical parents of her firstboyfriendever forbade him to talk to her and described her as “leading him to destruction like a temptress leading a lamb to slaughter.”
Following high school, Brown attended Princeton University, where she graduated summa cum laude from the Art and Archaeology program in 2012. She was a member of the Cap and Gown eating Club and dabbler in club sports and community service. After sophomore year, she attended a residency at the Chautauqua Institution, which marked her departure from painting and into sculpture. The next year she was accepted to the Yale-Norfolk program year, where she would have a life-changing encounter with video making and other young artists.
Immediately after graduation, Brown attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture where she made no physical work, but made important inroads in the development of her performance work, including the drunken, but impressive, singing of “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, while flopping around in a fish suit. One month after, she moved to Los Angeles.
In the summer of 2013 she was the lead teacher for the Children’s Workshop at Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument. The project taught her an immense lesson about love and was the beginning of several important friendships. Her first performance was one summer later at the home of TMO. Between 2014 and 2015, she would go on to perform at REDCAT Theater, 356 Mission, Human Resources, The Hammer Museum, and McPoems. She would also begin her study of clowning in 2014. In 2015 she wrote her first novella, My Wet Hot Drone Summer, published by Badlands Unlimited.
Brown matriculated in the spring of 2015 to the Sculpture program at Yale University School of Art. After a harrowing first year, during which she most certainly experienced a spiritual death, she composed her first one-woman operetta Focacciatown. During that two-year span, she attended the Sommerakademie in Bern, Switzerland led by Thomas Hirschhorn, and performed at the International Center of Photography. Brown’s first solo show was in June 2017, at Deli Gallery in New York City. She relocated there in July 2017, and soon after premiered her video Lip Gloss Alurt on the High Line. A week later, her paternal grandfather died on October 1, 2017.
Burger, bread, flesh,
shaggy and stringy days gone –
finally put my backpack down for 2 seconds
It had been getting big
like pregnant even,
with unforgiven lovers lonely nights and coffee shits:the emotion, cold sweats,
unactualized anger and good intentions,
claims staked to things I thought
ought – general plans. what’s good?
Was so sad, deeply sad, for some millions [sic] of a second even through smelling flowers:
seeing flowers through smelling them:
smelling right through to the clearly beautiful point where smelling flowers is just about
Candy fresh payola
burger, bread, flesh,
Brioche begs the question,
Damn girl is you hongry?
Or, perchance, girl yous already fulled Up
gasoline breathing, backpackless for time 1 Damn, perchance
Girl got the itis*
*Lol, still ours – even if borrowed, bought, or stolen, the words still come from the kitchens, back of the head
Ma medulla, that’s how she always gets along in this world, No difference.
She’s like that duck, quack
and always fine,
So I don’t worry about that shit getting taken by Fudd, Bugs, Bud, Chuck,
Chad, Brad, or any other brat wabbit.
The bullet and the hole are the same thing – the buns and burger and a little bit of spit, sipping flowers.
You know that part of you that keeps getting shot but is 100% indefatigable
Singer of s-s-s-s-songs?