Pt. 1 // Water.
I believe that fibers and our attachment to materials are like vessels— they hold invaluable pieces of information, like an inscribed memory… or perhaps more like DNA. My work is an obsession with those memories, whether it be embodied, lived, or dreamt. I am frequently cross-examining my understanding of Self through personal and familial concerns, often with a burning and enraged desire to fully interrogate the ancestral histories and traditions that were intentionally stolen (if not entirely erased) and kept secret from me.
My artwork serves as a watery release. The materials that I work with feathers, obsidian, indigo dye, granite tombstones, cowrie shells, daisies, rhinestones, cotton, linen, Kanakelon hair, black vinyl, all charge these waters. They speak to me and share how long they’ve been traveling. Their textures tell me where they’ve been. Sometimes depending on the color, I can feel what they’re feeling, too. Though I find the conversations with these materials and their histories to be both gratifying and maddening, they help bring my artworks: sculptures, textiles, props, and installations through their beginnings and endings. More typically than not, the work is in some form of opposition with one another— bound by a sort of meeting at a crossroads. But it is they, the materials, which function as the ultimate compass. They guide me through new chapters as old chapters come to a close. While yes indeed, I am the captain of my own ship, sometimes their guidance directs me to demanding and unforeseen currents.
My most recent tide has brought me closer to the shores of West Africa, home as my father knows it, to Nigeria. Studying his country, the artwork, garments, rituals, and performances, I have found home in the Igbo people’s use of dualism, the Ejagham’s secret leopard society, the body patterns of uli, nsibidi chalk drawings, the blue-pigmented textiles of the Yoruba and their orishas which remind us of Nature’s ordered chaos and our intertwined connection to it. The Fulani people's style and use of embellishment. This is the Afrosurreal. Suddenly an entirely fantastical and marvelous world awaits before me. I feel like a child lost in rhythmic dance and these sandy waters are ones my curiosity can’t resist.
Photograph by RJ Eldridge