If you want to learn more about the process of creating ’Ancestral Vein’ and what I learned about African Precolonial Culture and their spirituality, then stick around and read the content below. 😊
The Making of ’Ancestral Vein’
Made with stretched paper attached to a wood board with staples, a girl in ancient times, shows her pride about herself as a person and the ancestors that came before her. In the process of creating this work, I thought about african culture and the impact it had on black people today. Imagine this person as one of your ancestors that contributed to your existence today. What does she tell you?
‘Ancestral Vein’ Process
What inspired this direction was Yoruba Religion and how it shaped the attitude our ancestors had towards life.
I used charcoal and rubber for the artwork. I chose charcoal because it was the only thing that I had mastered at the time. I used different kinds of charcoal to achieve different light and shadow ranges.
With this work I pushed myself by drawing on a larger canvas. I cut a piece of paper one inch longer than the wood board. You need to stretch the paper, because it comes from a role, so you stretch it to unroll the paper and make it slim. So I applied water on the paper and put the paper on top of the wood board to stretch it.
Then I applied the water on the paper and smudged the water around until it was attached to the wood board. After doing this, I turned the paper around and applied staples with a staple gun. Then I let it dry for a day.
Reconnecting With the Ancestors through Religion
I was investigating the potential of Yoruba Religion and how the ancestral element fit on to it. Our traditional religions are based on 3 words: Ancestry, Rhythm and Community.
Ancestry was not only part of our religions, it was our way of seeing the world and honouring our individual past by achieving our highest potential in respect of the people that came before us.
Rhythm was not only part of festivals and parties, but it stretched out to every single area of our lives. From our ngolo (where capoeira originated from) to solving communal issues. It’s worth noticing that capoeira fighting moves are their strongest, when music is involved. The music from the instruments increases the power each technique has. That power is called ‘Axe’ or ‘Ashe’ (the life force that runs through all things, living and inanimate, and is described as the power to make things happen). In capoeira saying that someone has ’axe’ is complimenting their energy, fighting spirit and attitude. The ancestral drum was used as a communication device, a source of energy, a device used to solve issues in the community, etc. The drum could be compared to the brushes that painters use, although it had a lot more uses for it.
Community is a key part of Yoruba Religions. It’s believed in Yoruba, that one cannot achieve his/her highest potential without a powerful community. The community will hold you accountable to your actions and help you when you are struggling. Without community one could not evolve and fulfil his/her Ori (destiny). If you’re interested in learning more about Yoruba Religion and it’s practices you can do so here.
I learned about the ‘Iwa Pele’ (gentle and good character). I learned about the misconceptions Christianity has created over our traditional african religions. There’s misconceptions about our traditional religions as being connected to witchcraft and devilish acts. First of all ’witchcraft’ is an European concept. In Yoruba ’witches or ‘witch doctors’ did not exist until colonialism happened.
I believe that we all have ancestors, no matter where you from. And I believe that our ancestors have a direct impact on our daily lives, in multiple ways. Everyone is connected to their ancestors through their own blood line, no matter where you from. I learned about the ashe, the orishas and the the strenght of being in congruence with your complex Ori. You can learn more about all of this here.
‘Ancestral Vein’ tells the story of a girl in ancient times and the pride she felt about herself as a person. The qualities that characterize the work are ancestry and pride. Here I accomplished portraying the pride our ancestors always had, but forgotten because of colonialism.