Path of Bones | Encaustic mixed media installation | Work in progress | 2016
The optic of a path of bones has haunted me for decades.
The installation includes 400 shards of slate treated with encaustic medium. In my uses of translucency, layering, and embedding, this art form lends itself to the metaphor of the palimpsest. The stones stand in as the multivalent sign for the path of bones, the crossroads, the burial ground, and the archive. By photo-transferring fragments of text from archival sources onto the surface of the stones, layering and scraping back, I perform the palimpsestic acts of overwriting, erasure, and obscuration.
Here is the path of bones on the ocean floor. This is not a metaphor, nor is it poetic imagination. Millions of African captives perished, over four hundred years of forced migration, and their bodies sifted down through the depths to this aquatic grave. In the creation of this work, I experience an unquenchable thirst to gather these bones into my body, to recover what was torn from us there, and to make the crossing to and from the door of no return. To and from the shores of Sapelo. To Esú’s crossroads. From Mojuba crossing. Across Kalunga line.
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