Werkk of the Day 4/25/14

WERKK OF THE DAY

 

1. What is “Werkk of the Day”?:

Between doing personal projects and commissions, I like to create pieces that I call the "Werkk of the Day" posts. These WOTD pieces help me explore different art techniques and mediums.  They also present me with the opportunity to explore special concepts and engage others.


 

Most recent WOTD:

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There are years that ask questions, and years that answer- Zora Neale Hurston

 

Medium- Acrylic, and ink marker on gessobord.


 

2. About this Werkk:

In the piece you see a little girl and a young woman facing one another. They both wear necklaces with a question mark and period, in reference to Zora Neale Hurston’s line from her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.  With this I wanted to highlight that it's not just the past that ask questions, nor is it just the present/future that answer and vice versa.  I also incorporated the concept of Sankofa throughout the piece.  Sankofa is a concept originated from the Akan ethnic group in West Africa.  In the Akan language, the proverb associated with Sankofa reads: se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki." This translates into English as "it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten." (Villa Sankofa, 1). Both the heart-like symbol, and the bird reaching back for its egg placed below each figure, are the Adinkra symbols for Sankofa.  The bird is the more detailed symbol because it illustrates,“a mythical bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth.” (DuboisLsc, 1)

 

I think Sankofa is an important concept for any individual, as it encourages the reflection into one’s past to gain the necessary insight and foundation needed to move forward. It stresses the importance of learning from mistakes, and allowing for any wrongs to be corrected. What I also find particularly compelling about Sankofa, is how it operates culturally. When enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade, they brought with them their various customs, religions, music, languages etc. In looking at Black culture in the United States, and Caribbean culture as well Afro-Latin@ culture, you can observe how each is distinct in its own syncretizations. However they also very similar to each other and to some continental African cultures, due to various African influences embedded within each. The Akan influence is a very prominent example of such.  There are over 60 Adinkra symbols, but the Sankofa symbol is one of the most commonly recognized and transported throughout the Diaspora.  When you consider the genocidal nature of the slave trade and its subsequent effects, Sankofa seems like a very wise thing to keep in mind.

 

3. Werkk Discussion:

The common denominator between Zora Neale Hurston’s quote and Sankofa is time. In many societies and cultures time is thought to be linear. You have your past, then your present, then the future, in that order. But in some schools of thought, time is thought to be non-linear. In this model of time the past, the present, and the future, are all happening simultaneously although we may not have the faculties to perceive it as such. I think this model of time is very fascinating, and it leads to me the start of my discussion. Let’s imagine you can use your present self to address your past self. And you can also use your past self to mold your present and future self...all at the same time! I think this could be incredibly helpful and serve as a means for healing and self-validation should you find yourself in need of it.

 

4. Werkk Engagement:

I shared this piece on my social networks and I described it as a time travel healing experiment:)When I posted this piece I asked everyone to consider the following questions:

 

1. What advice would you give to your younger self? (and/or) 2. What is something you want to remind your present of that you knew as a child?

 

I have received so many poignant, funny, and thoughtful responses! Here are some below:

 

Ginandachaser- Message to my younger self:  Be Patient! Don’t expect to know everything in this world immediately, including yourself.  Take time to be still, quiet and get to know yourself, who you are and what you believe in.  Don’t expect perfection from yourself and others.  However, do hold yourself and others to standards. Be compassionate and understand that people are not here to be who you want them to be. Allow for human failings and disappointments.  

Reminder to my present self: Be brave and bold.  Never let the world steal your joy or your ability to smile.

Mhargo- I would tell my younger self : to believe in yourself, believe in your gifts, and believe in your ability to share your gifts with others … for your voice speaks your truth and you should not be ashamed or afraid of who and what you are : beautiful and unique.

 

Absintheandawe- “Let the beautiful boy break your heart. Gin and Marlboro Blacks won’t ever be the same after you meet him. Your heart will heal. Let yourself love him. Pain is just as much a part of life as joy. Experience it.

 

Uncomplicatedtruths- Loving yourself is much easier to learn if you start early.

 

5. Closing Remarks

Even though the responses I received were personal and unique to each person I can definitely identify with them and I found others could as well. It is pretty remarkable that the responses were so similar in nature, considering they come from people who have seemingly disparate experiences. To all those who participated or even just thought about my question and Zora Neale Hurston’s words, I hope you were able to find some sort of clarity about yourselves or your experiences, no matter how small.


 

References:

"Sankofa Bird." The Meaning. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.

"About the Sankofa Bird." VILLA SANKOFA RSS2. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.


 

Links to Time Travel Healing Experiment:

http://shannonsartwerkk.tumblr.com/post/80702814222/werkk-of-the-day-post-there-are-years-that-ask

http://instagram.com/p/l-oW8MGgJV/


 

For now I will be making prints of this werkk on request. Send me an email or fill out the contact form if you are interested.

 

<3Shannon

 


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