My senior year at Santa Clara University I took what I hope was NOT my last art class – sculpture.
We were assigned two projects: Large Assemblage and Gourd Instrument.
Wyrdness was my assemblage project. A lot of the work isn’t obvious because you can’t tell what the objects started out as, but that rocking chair base for the spinning wheel was originally at least three different pieces of furniture, and hollowing out the book took more hours than I’m prepared to count in retrospect.
I was very startled when, at the end of the quarter, the professor and his assistant told me I was the most professional artist in their classes that quarter, and expressed hope that I had time to consider changing my major to art or at least pick up an art minor (alas, I did not – I was two classes away from finishing my BA in Religious Studies).
I have photos of the details of this project, as well as notes explaining many of the references (there are a LOT of folklore references in this sculpture) over on my Flickr gallery.
For my gourd instrument, I immediately knew I wanted to make a rainbow shekere to honor Ayizan of the Lwa (a powerful spirit of Haitian Vodou). The professor told me that the designs on it looked a bit like Haitian folk art, and I gleefully informed him that they had better, since they were Ayizan veves pulled directly from Haitian and New Orleans tradition. He expressed concern about appropriation, and I agreed that it was a fair concern, but that I hoped my intent that the work was in Ayizan’s honor, and that the resulting object was going to a practitioner would render my use of the veves fair. Then I explained that I was an RS major, and an Umbandista, and it all made much more sense.
After the class ended, I gave the shekere to a friend of mine who is a New Orleans tradition Voodoo Mama. I am not certain where I put the photos of that. Hopefully I can contact my friend again and perhaps get photos from her.