Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Return to the World Tree: Chewa Mkusu

I don't normally write about -me- particularly, but I'm going to today.  Today, I broke through a low mood cycle.  (Actually, if I'm honest about it, I started on Monday when I put my clothes away, then picked up my earrings, and got rid of shoes that I've outgrown.)  But today, I got back to making art.

Part of it has been a minor battle with imposter syndrome.  And that the vast majority of the latest pieces in my series come from African countries.  I have spent hour, days, weeks (heck, when you add them all up, months), researching for these pieces because I know that I don't know much about African cultures.  And this latest piece, by itself, has taken over three weeks to research.  To get just enough of a glimpse into the Chewa to -try- to make a piece that a Chewa person could see and maybe think-- Yes, I can see that, I can feel that, and a little bit is me.  To be honest, that's the purpose of the entire series:  To make a piece for a place that maybe people from that place, of that culture, will be able to see a small portion in them-- to resonate.

This one was hard.  Even though the majority population of Chewa live in Malawi, and Malawi's national tree is the Mulanje cedar, it didn't feel like a proper fit.  Because not all of the people of Malawi are Chewa.  And because not all Chewa live in Malawi.

My research led me to trying to find Kapirintiwa mountain, but Google maps (in fact ANY map I can find online) has no clue where it is.  And trying to narrow it down led me to the Chongoni Rock Art.

From there, I decided to find indigenous trees to the region.  And decided on the Uapaca kirkiana, sometimes called sugar plum or wild loquat, a native fruit bearing tree locally called Mkusu.  And felt the 'click' I hadn't felt for the Mulanje cedar.

I started by playing with yellow for this batch of backgrounds.  This piece began in the upper right hand corner.

Then I added the first layer of base colors.

After four layers of paint to create the base, I smattered it in each of the colors again.

Adding the first layer of white.

After the second layer of white paint.

All in all, there are nine layers of paint on this one.

3" x 3" acrylic on mini canvas

Six white loquat leaves, with seven fruit representing spiritual awakening and the collective consciousness, done on a background of rainbow colors as a bridge to the world tree. Made as piece #25 in my Leaves on the World Tree series, working on mini canvases, creating a tree associated with each of the major ethnic groups, to show that we are ALL leaves on the same world tree. The twenty-fifth piece is the Chewa Mkusu.

Prints and other merchandise available at my society6 store

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