Thursday, October 25, 2007

Maafa Awareness Month1

The opening reception for Push Rewind: Maafa Art Exhibit 2007 presented by The Oakpod was a huge success despite the rain, Friday, October 12, 6-9 p.m. at Inquiry Gallery, 2865 Broadway, Unit 2, Oakland, California. Neter Aameri spoke about his altar for the ancestors—millet, rice, coconut, black beer, sage, glasses filled with water and white flowers….Nena St. Louis’ Women of War left the audience speechless. Wooden their scanty coverings, scorch marks symbolizing the rape and other sexual violence women and girls suffer. Wally Scott spoke about his dresser and how he placed the Adinkra symbols on it, specifically the Sankofa symbol.

He said the “Sankofa symbol has defined our existence in the Middle Passage and slavery.” Another symbol he uses is the drum, a “symbol,” he says, “a symbol which in many ways has defined our existence as Africans throughout the Americas. The drum is a symbol of not only our culture, but as an aspect of our that has survived centuries of repression—it’s a symbol of resistance (and defiance).”

I didn’t realize until he left that there were clothes and books inside the two op drawers. We have to place a sign telling people to open the drawers. It’s fully functional Wally laughed. I really liked the interactive nature of the piece. When one swats down she can see her reflection in the mirror African bodies lining the slaveship floor also a part of the reflection. It shows how all of us are complicit or affected by the tragedy – it’s a quiet call to action. I couldn’t help but smile as I swatted there, not because it was a pleasant image. Not I smiled because despite over 400 years of beatings, rapes, and other mutilation, none worse that the theft of our language and African ways, “we’re still here.” This is the ultimate protest movement— not leaving and claiming what is rightfully ours, a stolen legacy.

TaSin spoke about her two paintings “Muhindi” and “Whispers.” Muhindi is a Kiswahilli term that means corn. Corn during Kwanzaa represents the children, so a family places ears on the altar for each child in the family. Children were the riches. This painting was completed in 2005.

Whispers—fading into the background… is another painting completed in 2005. In both there are mothers and babies. The idea at that time, was to do a series.

Kimara spoke about his art in capturing not just the moment but the feeling or emotion inherent in the moment. It just so happens that the photographs in this years exhibit feature Neter Aameri, one of our artists who has been building altars at the ritual for the past 6 years, although when he first came to a ritual, there were only 5 of us there. Now there are hundreds.

Omar Lionel Sow’s Judgement Day sits over the fireplace, a huge work, it speaks to the room, to those present so magnificently. I am so happy his representative, Sister Jendayi Brandon of drumminSoul Art and Design. She told us about the art colonies or villages in the area where Omar lives and works. She said that he is a devote Muslim so the theme—judgement day is a spiritual reference. When one thinks about the legacy of slavery for African people, many who went through the dungeons of Goree Island, Omar’s processional – abstract figures on a black landscape, flashes of blue and silver prominent signatures, one can’t help but think about one’s own life and what will be its verdict on that Great Day.

We missed you Jason, James and Orlonda. I need artists to gallery sit, Fridays and Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Let me know if you are available. If everyone can take an afternoon then one person won’t feel burdened  So anyway, I’m sitting this weekend. We have a few Fridays left until Nov. 2, our closing reception. I cannot sit next Friday, Oct. 19. We have a program that evening at the Oakland Public Conservatory, AIDS in the Black Community, 6-9 p.m. then Saturday, October 20, I am going to the state rally on health care at Chowchilla Women’s Prison. That’s the intention anyway.


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