The Children of Middle Passage series was created to memorialize the countless children and young people that perished during the Middle Passage of the trans-Atlantic slave trade whose names and identities have been erased. In order to erase the anonymity to which these children were relegated I titled each portrait with a traditional African name and a corresponding village. It is very possible that a young girl by the name of Ye was kidnapped from the Ashanti village of Ejisu and later perished on a slaver crossing the Atlantic.
It is my hope/belief that when we commemorate spirit beings that met tragic ends in works of art we provide that spirit a peaceful and loving resting place. The Children of Middle Passage series is such a body of work.
Ten prints are in the series, six are available for exhibition.
Celestial Dreaming grows out of a life long meditation on the sacro-secular. This collection of work imagines the images of ancestral spirit beings, ánimas and the journeys of souls from a pre-life existence, to a celestial after-life, and to a return. Seminal to this work is the color blue as a leitmotif signifying the spiritual. While many belief systems inform this body of work, it is primarily grounded in the notion of rebirth that is fundamental to Kongo and Yoruba theology.
This collection of paintings is also in conversation with Ntozake Shange’s poems entitled Smoke Voices: interviews with the spirits in the art of Arturo Lindsay begun some three and a half decades ago in Houston, Texas. Our conversation continues today as Ntozake and I have rebooted our art and poetry collaboration exploring the journeys of spirit beings.