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The First Piece of the Puzzle


Louise Nevelson

The first time I saw Louise Nevelson's work I said, that's great!

I'm going to steal her techniques and use them for myself.

I didn't say I wanted to learn her techniques, I said I wanted to steal them.

They were too easy to learn, they had to be stole.

She assembled objects and painted them black.

I wanted more of a narrative in my work. More substance. I wanted to be selective with my objects and the process of selecting needed to be as important as the objects themselves.

I looked elsewhere for inspiration. I found it within Nkisi Nkondi, the spirit of the hunter. Nkisi Nkondi were ancient figures created during the Kingdom of Kongo. The figures were said to possess the spirits of ancestors who would hunt down evil and protect the village. These ancestors were able to do so because their spirit had never left the earth. It remained in the Kingdom. It stayed among the earth, the ashes, the herbs and the relics of the dead. These sacred objects and relics were collected and assembled by a religious specialist called a Nganga. The Nganga summoned spirits of the dead into relics and religiously bound the relics together to increase their energy force. When one wanted to release their ancestor's energy force upon prey, one would strike a nail into the Nkisi Nkondi, commanding it to go forth.

This became my practice. My discipline. My life.

Nkisi Nkondi

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Est. 1823

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Albany, New York

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