Returning to meditate on that astounding collection in the Birmingham Museum of Art, depicting the feminine, the roundness and abundance of Mama Africa. . .came alive!
Like the sound of the drum, the heart beats on in the spirit of Mama Africa!
The collection was done by Dick Jemison. Having been inspired by the aesthetics and cultural identity of Southern, Western, and Central African cultures, the artist from Birmingham presented a 58-pottery collection. The art of pottery making in Africa is one that is operated by African women. Stories are told, and a culture is born. It is a spiritual and sacred contract with the Universe. . .that the culture will continue.
Situated in different places, while occupying different spaces, the pots capture an array of sizes, designs, and shapes. Yet, what is enriching is how they depict a myriad of spirits for womanhood and identity. In reality, the collection is a make-up of 406 pieces of pottery. Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Daniel Foundation, made this possible.
Examining the roundness, the fullness, and the abundance of the pottery only makes one inquiry into how the spirit of the African woman is being celebrated. The exquisiteness of such artwork are mini replications of the Earth, and the (particularly in these African areas) wealth of woman’s culure and herstory. . .
Each pot from the collection represents the diversity of African women’s bodies; and it is based on the different parts of the land, where she finds nourishment. Each body speaks a culture, a language, a name. The positioning of each pot, and how they are juxtaposed towards each other, could even bring light of a map; all the while highlighting the connection and placement of each culture, to each other.
And of even more importance is how they symbolize re-birth; a symbolism of fertility-a sacred trust among these women.
So, why Birmingham? And what is the significance of such a collection coming to this city, in connection with the other cultures, who are represented.
Coming to Birmingham served as a revival and arising for past feminine culture that was here. Symbolizing the working of the land by America’s darker sister; a reminder that she continues the eggs of her African fore mothers. It could even symbolize those Indigenous daughters. The First Nation women, who knew what it meant to be nourished in the Earth–the healers and symbols of hope in the sustaining of any community.
Our pots of fertility highlight any traces of womanhood among other cultures, represented; and co-existing with the African Woman. A celebratory gesture of her, as the first mother; and the honor of having birthed other colors of femininity.