PROJECTS:

The Voyage of the Delfina

 

The Voyage of the Delfina is a performance art ritual that imagines the traditional names and villages from which approximately 159 abducted Africans were taken from an unknown port on the west coast of Africa on the slaver Delfina to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

This project addresses the problem of erasing the anonymity of captured Africans by providing them with an identity.  Participants – students, faculty and artists – were required to research traditional names and villages of abducted Africans.  Example: it is possible that someone named Babatunde from Lagos might have been on the Delfina.  It is also believed that one third of the enslaved perished at sea.

Artist Contemplating Torture

Artist Contemplating Torture was initially conceived as a protest statement against the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela during the apartheid era in South Africa under the title Artist Contemplating the Fate of Those Who Speak of Freedom.  It was first presented in New York City’s Lower East Side as part of a Plexus Art Co-Opera in 1986 at CUANDO and later that year at Kenkeleba Gallery.  The following year the work was recreated for Franklin Furnace aboard the Staten Island Ferry and then at Fashion Moda in the Bronx.  For these performances, Polaroid photos were taken of the artists and their images were placed on an “altar” installation in front of the seated artist. 

            The work has now been redesigned as a protest statement against the torture of innocent victims worldwide.  This new project was first presented in the rainforest at Las Orquídeas Sculpture Park in Portobelo, Panama in June 2008 and at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa on the 11th of July – Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday and later at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.  For this project participants in the production gather the names of tortured victims from Amnesty International and local sources.

Artist Contemplating:  Black Lives Matter - Memphis

Artist Contemplating:  Black Lives Matter – Memphis is the most recent version of my Artist Contemplating series and the first Black Lives Matter version of the series.  It was presented at the University of Memphis in collaboration with local artists, students and faculty. 

            New venues are being sought to continue this series.

The Return of the Ancestral Messenger Through the "Door of No Return"

Plexus is an international network of artists that create collaborative art projects worldwide. On December 10, 2000 I was invited by the Senegalese chapter of Plexus International to contribute a performance art work for the International Human Rights Day at La Maison des Ésclaves – The House of Slaves on Gorée Island. La Maison des Ésclaves was one of the last places in Africa where captured Africans were quartered prior to shipment to America. I maintain a studio in Portobelo, Panama, a former port of disembarkation for captured Africans during the colonial period. 

My Plexus identity is the Ancestral Messenger. This performance art ritual confronts the betrayal of enslaved Africans by their leaders by returning as an allegorical being through the “door of no return.”

The Birth of Love

The Birth of Love is a multi-media installation that attempts to capture that feeling we have the moment we realize that we are in love.

Los abanicos de Portobelo - The Portobelo Fans

Los abanicos of Portobelo – the Portobelo fans – is a site-specific, bio-degradable, environmental art installation that was installed at Las Orquídeas Sculpture Park in Portobelo, Panama in 2010.  The artist’s intent was to create a work that blended into the rainforest and while made by a human appears to be in harmony with the birds and the vegetation.

Requiem in Portobelo

The Requiem Series explores the use of the four elements of nature to make art.  In these works fire serves as a cleansing element.

Requiem in Sumter

Sanctuary on the Beltline

In the last decade I have been exploring the idea of sanctuary in my art.  This body of work is an outgrowth of my desire to create eco-friendly spaces in urban places to serve as a refuge for city dwellers.  My sanctuary series is also congruent with my life long desire of making art more accessible to non-traditional museum/gallery audiences.

     Essentially, the sanctuary series is a body of environmental art installations created as sacro-secular spaces with the primary goal of providing a green cathedral wherein viewers can have aesthetic and spiritual experiences with nature and art. 

Sanctuary @ Spelman

Sanctuary @ America Beach

Bearing Witness - Atlanta

In 2012 I was one of fifteen artists selected nationwide by the State Department and the Bronx Museum of the Arts to represent the United States abroad.  smARTpower builds on Secretary of State Clinton's vision of using the arts as part of "smart power" diplomacy.  I was assigned to Cairo, Egypt.  Bearing Witness - Atlanta is a performance art ritual that served as a preface to my smARTpower Bearing Witness project that was presented in Cairo.   

 

Bearing Witness / A Choice of Tools

 

smARTpower - Media Balady, Cairo, Egypt

Inspired by Gordon Park's autobiography, A Choice of Weapons, I created a cellphone photography workshop for the teangers of Media Balady to bear witness to their lives.  Project Manager Nagla Samir made it possible to publish the results of the workshop as a photography book.  On the last day of the workshop we had a book signing party.  The young people of Egypt are amazing!