Alter Images II
Fear of the dark.
Mythologies, folk tales, and religion have turned darkness or blackness into something that is either evil or sinister. ALTER IMAGES II is a deliberate liberation of darkness from this vale of fears. I use darkness as the fecund source of beginnings, the womb-soil of all potential — a natural state instead of a projection of evil or wrong. The womb where animal and human life is formed, is dark, and beneath the soil where seeds germinate there is no light. The ebb and flow of life depends on darkness. As day and night are integral to our ability to live on this planet — so too are light and dark integral to our spiritual landscape.
Black Madonna & Sisters
120cm x 240cm
Oil on shaped
Not candle smoke.
When Christianity started to supplant the older religions of Europe and erected its great cathedrals on sites where shrines or temples to a pagan goddess had once stood, those goddesses were driven underground. It makes metaphoric sense then that, around the 12th century C.E., legends tell of how black madonnas were miraculously unearthed, often by a ploughing animal. Once buried or hidden, the earth goddess now re-emerged. The Church rationalized the dark madonna as having been blackened by candle smoke, but it is far more likely that she was black because she represented the dark, fecund potential of soil.
While I lived in New York from 1981 to 2004, my longing for Africa often imaged the continent in the form a great dark mother. The mother’s body is the first landscape a newborn sees, so Africa with her mighty mountains, rivers, and grassy savannas, is the mother of my inner landscape. This African mother, along with her sisters, the black madonnas of Europe, with their deep European and ancient Middle Eastern roots, inform my work of unearthing/resurrecting/transforming a creative image of Mother, Woman, Sacred Earth. I add another dimension to the church’s contrivance of the madonna darkened by candle smoke or fire, by including for vindication those goddesses and biblical figures who have historically had their names blackened/darkened by misogynistic fears of powerful or willful women.
I apply the overarching title of Post-Christian Alter Images to this work — deliberately and simultaneously marking the notion of other alternatives (alter) and a site of worship (altar).
Website of South African Artists