My artwork was selected for the LA Municipal Art Gallery
"Perspectives" exhibition back in Dec 2006 – Feb 2007.
The works chosen:
La Mujer de Caguana Petroglyph
Currently, I'm investigating the Modular, Triangular System of Roy Lawaetz. His idea stemming from the Cemi spirit stone struck a cord as well as these stones being sculpted by the Tainos. The Tainos are the indigenous people who live in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles.
Let me back up, I was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and my mother submitted her DNA for testing to figure out her ancestry. The mitochondrial DNA we share in our blood traces our maternal ancestors back to the Bamileke people in Cameroon, Africa.
Many ideas are clashing around in my mind: ancestrial tracings left behind in blood, petroglyphs and spirit stones; visualizing a web of geometric patterns underlying the Tainos' cosmology and world view; and an emerging pattern of pictorial logic or visual language used to communicate ideas about one’s connection to nature, to earth. I want to explore where these ideas will take me and my art.
I've been in contact with Roy Lawaetz and discussing his Modular, Triangular System. The Cemi spirit stones sculpted by the Tainos are my starting point. These stones were created to represent deities in the Taino spiritual world and treated with great reverence by the Tainos when placing them within their homes or when they were used in ceremonies led by the cacique—the chief—or by the shaman of the tribe.
I’ve focused on these stones being “triangular” as well as Roy’s idea of “modular” and fleshed it out by thinking of representations as fragments. How our psyche relays to us our dreams, fragmented visions, traveling in many directions and creating multi-dimensional visual stories. I am curious about these fragmented, multi-dimensional visions and how to create them through photography. And being that photographs are formatted as rectangles or squares---I love the challenge of breaking the status-quo by creating triangular, photographic representations.
My drive will be to contribute knowledge to the field of Taino indigenous art and to create a triangular, photographic format.
I’m researching Taino mythology, learning more about their spiritual world and referencing the photographs I've already taken of their petroglyphs in Puerto Rico. I want to understand the art that they left behind and their way of seeing. I'm also following a trail left by my maternal ancestors back to the Bamileke people in Cameroon.
I plan to travel to Puerto Rico & the Dominican Republic to capture more Taino petroglyphs--such as the newest discovery in Jacanas, Ponce, PR. Ultimately, I will spend time in Cameroon and Mali, West Africa. By immersing myself in the cultures of the Bamileke and Bamun tribes in Cameroon and the Dogon tribe in Mali, I will begin to see patterns in the textures, vessels, art forms that they surround themselves with on a daily basis. The direct results will be triangular, photographic visual stories. And will there be evidence of cross-cultural similarities between the Bamileke, Bamun, Dogon and the Taino? I don’t know.
For those who want to know about my mother's mitochondrial DNA testing...
Sonia Garcia Rosario de Parker's DNA sample was submitted to the African Ancestry labs in Washington, DC, in 2005. Through their MatriClan analysis, her mtDNA sequence shares maternal genetic ancestry with the Bamileke people in Cameroon.
Dr. Rick Kittles, their Scientific Director, and his team of genetists analyzed 360 base pairs along the Hypervariable Segment I (HVSI) and looked for mutations. Dr. Kittles read the mutations and compared them to the mtDNA sequences in their African Lineage Database (ALD). When he found a sequence that had the same mutations as my mother's sequence, he found a match. If he hadn't found a match in the ALD, then Dr. Kittles would have accessed a Native American database and performed the same analysis.
Let me know what your thoughts are.
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