The interests behind my creative practice stem from an urge to bridge my West African heritage with my African American Identity. This research mines and honors a variety of shared and neglected histories in order to visually speak to a contemporary sense of cultural hybridity. By employing familiar practices— of collecting, joining and refining natural and repurposed materials— my wooden kente quilt works, mixed-media installations and prints provide educational opportunities to seek out new points of reference, while preserving layers of African cultural heritage and varying ethnic perspectives.
Through the use of discarded materials, the query of my work is in part a look into torturous separation—of peoples, of fact from accounts—and rectification through remembrance. What to some should be avoided or deemed ahistorical, for others presents the most befitting opportunity for healing, rebuilding and the fostering of optimistic growth. As articulated in Saidiya Hartman’s biography and autobiography, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, “Waste is the interface of Life and Death. It incarnates all that has been rendered invisible, peripheral, or expendable to history writ large, that is, history as the tale of great men, empire and nation. Waste is the remnant of all the lives that are outside of history and “dissolved in utter amnesia.”
My works are reflections of the people, the individual histories and the cultural fabrics that I have learned from and shared in, while traveling across the United States. They are a collection of stories, fragmented and fused together with room for the addition of narratives to come. By rearranging this assemblage of histories, these works pay homage to interactions with griots from industrial workspaces around Detroit, to the Red Willow People of the Taos Pueblo and more. The works bear witness to numerous examples of gerrymandering and gentrification around communities ignored by wielders of disproportionate power. And though the materials that make up these works were (and still are) the structural foundation and infrastructure for these ‘United’ States, the forgotten hard and soft woods hidden behind the white gallery walls, they remain optimistic for the future because they know from whence they came. They are the results of a process aiming to preserve invaluable communities and explore alternate methods of making home.