I began this project in 2019 as a proposal for a
solo exhibition that was to take place at the Hillyer gallery
in Washington DC. My proposal was chosen for a solo exhibition
at the Hillyer gallery in October of 2020. The tentative title
for the show was Gri Gri s: for the First Wave of the Third Millennium.
A gri grii is a talisman, that is stuffed with spiritual text.
I wanted mine to have not only texts, but stones and plants that
offer protection and inspiration.
Upon pondering the future of my people (African
Americans), I had ascertained that creating such a thing would
be a timely project. To warm up I began a series that I called
the Etude Series. An etude is defined as "a short musical
composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise
to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player
.(Oxford Languages) The idea is that I was practicing the creation
of my unique collage/paintings to improve my techniques and reveal
my skills struck a chord.
Then COVID-19 hit, and the show cancelled. Then
Mr. Floyd was murdered. I sat in my dark studio for weeks in the
quiet trying to grapple with the magnitude of the disease, its
consequences, and the numb feeling of having yet another of my
Creating the Etude series was providing me with
a sense of joy, even hope
I decided they would be the elements
for a installation. These pieces are to offer protection during
the first wave of the third millennium. I made the commitment
to create 100 of them by the end of 2020. I started to match the
gri gris, with the names of Jazz musicians and titles of tunes
they played that seemed to fit the pieces. Jazz is indeed music
of great imagination, tenacity, and the free improvisation, a
part of its very form, makes it, in my estimation a music fit
for the uncertainness of these times. It is also a music that
has, through the years, exposed issues of injustice. It has been
a salve for the healing a people. Each piece is filled with medicine:
crystals, stones, dried plants and objects that offer protection
and healing. They also have inspirational texts embedded in the
backs of them. I wanted to install them in a white room positioned
to give the perception that they were trying to escape the room
and its whiteness.
Due to COVID-19, they could not be exhibited, however
I did manage to install and document them in a wonderful space.
They can be viewed in the project section of my website. The individual
gri gris can be seen on-line in my Facebook and Instagram sites.
The art works are small, no larger than 16" x 16". There
are over 100 pieces in this series, and it is now my goal to have
them in the homes working to inspire and protect. I am creating
a self-published book of this series.