Tales from The b.a.SKET: Black Art Sketches for the Contemporary Art Lover
By D. Amari Jackson
This week, we reach into the b.a.SKET and pull out an abstract homage to the ancestors…
The ancestors are no strangers to smoke. In numerous African and Native cultures and spiritual traditions, the smoke from burning leaves / herbs like cedar and sage prepares the sacred space for spiritual practices through cleansing and the removal of negative influences.
Indigenous peoples commonly promote our human capacity or birthright to communicate with the ancestors on a regular basis. The memory of those no longer in physical form can be used as a basis for making important decisions and for determining which road to take in life.
Ancestral communication often comes through dreams. Small ancestral shrines within the homes of spiritual practitioners are commonly used as a focal point for prayer and meditation. Some cultures place leaves in clay pots or seashells, light them, and fan the flames to produce a steady plume of smoke before dispensing it throughout their residence or space. While doing so, they will commonly say a prayer or affirmation.
Lawrence Terry brings dat smoke… literally. Fascinated by fire and its associated human need to simultaneously control it and employ it technologically and artistically, the St. Louis-born artist views fire “as part of nature, and the universal flow of energy surrounding us” and believes it “is linked through time to ancient tribal ceremonies.”
Consistently, in his ongoing quest to “create art from something alive,” Terry worked with burnt and smoked hues, acrylic, copper mesh, and copper foil to produce Dancing With The Ancestors.
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Amari Jackson is a creator, author, TV/web/film producer, and award-winning journalist. He is author of the 2011 novel, The Savion Sequence; creator/writer/coproducer of the 2012-2014 web series The Book Look; writer/coproducer of the 2016 film Edge of the Pier; and current writer/coproducer of Listen Up! on HBCU GO/Roku TV. He is a former Chief of Staff for a NJ State Senator; a former VP of Communications & Development for the Jamestown Project at Harvard University; and a recipient of several writing fellowships including the George Washington Williams Fellowship from the Independent Press Association. An active ghost writer, song writer, martial artist, and journalist, his writings have appeared in a wide variety of national and regional publications.
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