Onajide

Shabaka

You belong here…, 2020, watercolor, collage on paper, 6 x 11 ¾ inches

The prospect of uncovering an episode from the past relies on the ability to trigger the mind to remember. This unfolding episode is dynamic and in trying to recover a recollection we become conscious of the act, work to adjust, and focus.

Once I began developing the serpentine forms seen in my practice, I kept two sketchbooks, one for use with water media, and the other for pencils or other dry media. I haven’t used all the pages for drawings yet. Since the 6 x 12 inch format is a bit unusual, I use it for ideas that will fit there. I have about ten blank pages remaining, and I will just continue working until it’s finished.

The landscape format of the pages, 6 x 12 inches, also became the format for an artist book that is being completed at the moment with hand binding. Basically, my sketchbook became the design inspiration for the artist book format and some of its pages. The book uses photography, letterpress, screen printing and includes a small amount of text. The resultant book will look very similar to my sketchbook but focused on my research investigations in Suriname and coastal Georgia looking at the history of African rice in both locations. The book is scheduled to be complete in October 2020, and I will then schedule a book launch.

The ruin has become our collective home, 2020

Laying claim to revisions and traditions, 2020

As part of my walking practice I collected bits of papers floating in the streets as well as a number of botanical specimens. These items became incorporated into my object collections or used to create new mixed media works.

My sketchbook became a vessel of ideas more than one of observations of reality, although I did include a few drawings from life while visiting Plantage Katwijk (Katwijk Plantation), owned by Suriname gallerist, Monique Nouh-Chaia of ReadyTex Gallery.

They were not twins though seemingly from the same mother, 2017

Plantage Katwijk, 2017

She refused to change her name, 2017

Angogo, and his clan, have brought the peace, 2018

Departure unannounced, night jasmine blooms, 1879, 2020

Using archived family photographs as a medium to interrogate socio-political concerns with reference to the past, “The lineage of improbable events,” presents a narrative of a typical small Southern US migrant town along central east coast Florida in the 1920s-30s. The rural landscape of work, play and private property was documented by the family of artist, Onajide Shabaka, in Saint Lucie County, Florida. It also invokes class injustices, including formerly restricted use of local beaches, housing segregation, and institutionally sanctioned discrimination. Landscapes inhabited by African Americans during the last hundred years represent meager environmental episodes and speak to cultural fragmentation and segregation by “race”. We also have to remember that well into the 1980s Fort Pierce, Florida, had an publicly seen and active Ku Klux Klan organization. 

The lineage of improbable events, 2019

The prospect of uncovering an episode from the past relies on the ability to trigger the mind to remember. This unfolding episode is dynamic and in trying to recover a recollection we become conscious of the act, work to adjust, and focus.

“Tantalize, she said that’s all men do to her when she only wanted love.”, 2019

“ ‘Monst the fragrant orange blossoms he promised.”, 2019

“Would he if he could do it all over again?”, 2019

“Beyond the water’s edge white mangroves blossomed.”, 2019

As a performative activity during a 2014 residency, Onajide Shabaka’s body acted as a repository of history (ethnic and specific to Fort Pierce, Florida) as this project offered a shifting or reinterpretation of both “site,” “self,” and “space” as these relate to one's experience by discretely transversing various neighborhoods where the artist had identified historically archived sites and material remains.