I have recently returned to NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia to complete my MFA after a 4-year absence. My time away has allowed me to gather new ideas and think about the different directions my work has taken, and which ones I am keen to pursue. 3 distinct bodies of work have emerged.
Rust Collection (working title): Rusted steel objects allude to restraints used during North America’s dark era of slavery. This narrative continues to shape our identities as African diaspora on North American soil.
Hair Jewellery: I am intensifying my research into Victorian hair jewellery patterns, with the intention of reviving this art form and creating more elaborate objects to wear.
Medical Adornment: Originally exhibited under a pseudonym, these objects created using IV tubes and cast bronze fixtures continue to enthrall me.
In 2007, I began working almost exclusively in Damascene, an archaic technique developed for the inlaying of precious metals on arms and armour. The process lends itself well to the adornment of found objects, and since I had just moved from the city to the country at the time, farming tools became the perfect artistic vehicle for both my new technical skills and my changing ideas about rural life. All around me, in the organic and slow food movements, I saw a longing for “simpler” times. This nostalgia brought to mind the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, another backward-looking movement which exalted the value of the handmade and its maker, but which in the end produced products only the rich could afford. By decorating reclaimed farm tools with silver and gold in patterns reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts, I am addressing a range of issues around agriculture and our relationship to farming methods past and present.
In July, I attended the opening of my first solo exhibition outside of Canada, at the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The Museum is an impressive complex of heritage buildings centered around a beautiful sculpture garden on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi. The buildings house rotating exhibitions, a permanent collection, forge, foundry, and a residency. Thanks to everyone at the Museum who made me and my partner Damon feel so welcome during our stay there!
The residency, where forge foreman Jim Mattheson hosted us during our stay.
The view from the gazebo, where we ate our breakfasts, and watched the sunsets (not simultaneously of course!)
A shot of the exhibition.
Welcome to the Metal Museum!
Some of the museum staff and apprentices took us out to an outdoor concert one night and drinks at the “Poor and Hungry” afterwards. A true Memphis experience!
Journeyman bladesmith and resident artist Andrew Meers (left) brought out some of his MFA thesis work for Damon and me to admire.