Artist Statement

Artist Statement, 2018


Ekuodon 2011, Spring Bembe Shrine showing Sango pot and mini Freeda holding her Freedom flag
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Shango and Freeda
2011 Ekuodon Altar, Detail-digital photograph
© 2011 and 2018

Gail Williams

Visual Artist, Iya l’Orisha
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I make art in response to personal, political, and spiritual concerns, viewing issues through lenses of sacred values, personal experience, research, and spirituality. I am a white woman practicing Ifa-Orisha spirituality since 1993 and received Iya l’Orisha (priestess) initiation in 2007. Black feminist epistemology, movements for racial and environmental justice, and Women’s Spirituality also inform my work.
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Most of my work is mixed media, I use all kinds of materials including digital media. And the work takes many forms: fine art, ritual objects, pit-fired clay pottery and sculpture, decorated ceramic dishes. I also create altars for community ritual.
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Mediums and methods of Ifa-Orisha spirituality and art making are equally important to my art practice. Sacred knowledge, values, and ritual are elements of my creative process along with guidance from ancestors and Orisha through direct communication, dreams, and divination.
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I think of art works as visual expressions that embody and communicate knowledge and ase, a Yoruba word for power—or the energy of being. Everything has (owns) ase. Ifa-Orisha spirituality recognizes meaning, power, and story as alive in every event, every being, every thing, and every juxtaposition. Similarly, in the images, texts, and juxtapositions of mixed media, photo collage, and altar making art forms we witness and experience meaning, story, and ase.