The title of the project came from the shared etymology of the words "bead" and "prayer". The Old English word, bede, became synonymous with 'prayer' because of the rosaries. The form, amulets containing powerful messages or substances, comes from African Diaspora traditions. These amulets are usually worn on the body for protection, health, and power. Amulets containing prayers are found throughout the world. Some are collectively "worn" by being placed on architecture (e.g., Jewish mezuzahs paced on doorposts to protect inhabitants). The presentation of the project is born out of this strategy of communal adornment and collective empowerment via architecture and clothing.
The apparati in the Communicator Project connect one individual to another.These devices connect eye to eye, heart to heart, and head to head to yield empathetic and perhaps even telepathic communication. A promise between two people is remembered when each places a finger in attached miniature gloves. All were inspired by objects of material culture: a twin pair of antique spectacles, a doctor's stethoscope, an image of thread tied around a finger to remember a promise, and an edan (an object worn by Nigerian judges that symbolizes balance in communication).
Funded by Culture Works in Richmond, Virginia, The Hair Craft Project is based on the premise that hairdressing is the primordial textile art form. That is to say, hairdressing is the earliest manipulation of fiber toward an aesthetic and functional purpose. As an artist and facilitator, I will bridge two Richmond communities through the project: Black hair salons and recent alumni of VCUarts’ nationally ranked Fiber Art program (according to US News and World Reports 2008.) The complex artistry of hairstylists will be fused with the skills of alumni from the Department of Craft/Material Studies at VCUarts. The project aims to break down barriers by crossing boundaries between hair salons and art galleries as sites of aesthetics, craft, skill, improvisation, and commerce.
Stay tuned for more details…
The Kente Flag Project involved the making of a hybridized cultural object, its presentation to people with a hybridized identity, and their imbuing of the object with their narratives. The piece mixed elements of African and Western/American culture. Handwoven in an African weave structure but on an European loom, the piece combined American flag and Ghanaian kente cloth (both symbols of identity and cultural pride). Kente patterns for strength and endurance, advancement and achievement, and prosperity were woven into the design.
A gele is a woman's headwrap. Its beauty is in the individuality expressed when each woman wraps her head. Fifty African American women were asked to wrap their heads and be photographed. While wearing the gele, they were asked how they felt about kente cloth, the flag, and the term "African American".