Photo of iron vat-dyed indigo on Manta Cotton. Jalisco state, Mexico 2021
Reawaken: (Definition) A feeling or state. Emerge or cause to emerge again. Awaken again.
This is my first blog post since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it reflects my own reawakening. The ongoing shutdown marked a long period of solitude and reflection for me, and I thrived in it- until the end. The exhaustion of the political upheaval and distance from my family began to affect my mental health and I did not have the energy to create very much, so I was eager to start a new chapter when things began to open up again. As we slowly reclaim the rhythms of our lives, I return to actively creating.
Currently, I am in Mexico attending a 2 month self-designed art residency. My reawakening has been supported by the vibrant beauty, textures, and colors I see around me every day- and in the simplest of things. The spices. aromas, sounds, textures, and the amazing variety of flora and birds have deepened my awareness of color theory, balance, rhythm, and composition- all basic elements of art. …And the textiles! My heart is full with inspiration!
Specifically, I am working on my first art installation which will involve many hundreds of handcrafted indigo-dyed masks. I am speaking to the issue of medical apartheid and implicit bias in medicine and the ongoing health and financial disparities affecting Black women, our communities, and other communities of color. Traditionally indigo is deeply rich with historical and cultural significance that lends itself metaphorically to what I have to say in this work. As a Black female textile artist, descended from talented craftswomen (who did not give themselves that acknowledgement) I give homage to the women: the Black textile dyers, weavers, and spinners who have been erased in U.S. history, and on whose shoulders I stand. As I travel within Mexico I am drawn to the similarities in the culture here with my own. I also understand more fully how Black voices have been erased here, too.
Technically, I am working with Manta algodon (cotton) woven locally, and I am experimenting with an iron indigo vat. I will also continue working with the fructose vat formula I was able to perfect in my studio at home using fruit from my local market.
Future plans? Collaboration with artists in Mexico- how might I add my music to the beautiful sounds and rhythms here? What are the opportunities to collaborate with Black Mexicans who are now raising their voices- no longer willing to be marginalized and considered invisible? Further growth and development: I have met two amazing textile artists since I have been here, Deborah Kruger and Shelly Stokes- both of whom show their work internationally. What can I learn from them regarding process, discipline, and business? What does it take to have a great team assisting in the production of work? And finally, my goal is to think bigger, dream bigger and live bigger- and move my writing projects along.
Reawakening is a continual process, and the journey continues.