Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Communicating with the spirit
by Brown, Inga Kimberly, M.F.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2016, 19; 10123732
Abstract (Summary)

My thesis work consists of oil paintings, hybridized through the use of mixed media, each one individually representing a Sacred Conversation involving family members and individuals that have passed from life to death, as well as the celebration of life in the present. I see my painting as spiritual work in which I interpret and map out the past, present and future of my life. My work is autobiographical. This is reflected through the attention to the pictorial embodiment of my own ancestor worship and the state of my own family history within the United States, my visions and communications with the past, deceased spirits, as well as the visualization of the future make-up my life. The relationship I have with the photograph is a dialogue that takes place within the gaze. My pictorial or mirror gazing concentrates on the spirit attached to the image inside the photograph, vision or in this case, spirit window. This act of gazing allows the spirit to speak and articulate what is necessary for the vision to evolve in what I am creating. The communication starts before I actually stretch the canvas. The spiritual intuition comes as a complete vision and then in the process of creation evolves through the spirits and my own formal decisions and intuition. The dialogue takes place within the studio; the medium is oil paint. The communication comes through the action of painting and listening to the faint voices of the spirits that guide me.

In the various branches of Vodun, one branch is Santeria, an African diaspora religion brought to the New World by African slaves, the ritual of ancestor worship occurs in the form of adoration, and in listening and watching for signs and miracles brought about by the ancestors who push us from behind, while the Orishas pull from the front, in order to guide us in our lives. My religious views stem from indigenous American and African spiritual beliefs. During slavery these beliefs and spiritual practices were concealed by a European cover or mask, to ensure their survival and continuation. My work appears on an array of different sized canvases and is both two dimensional to three dimensional. When I add three-dimensional elements, I use mixed media materials that may reference the composition. For instance, I may transform staples in the Santeria practice, such as tobacco, egg shells, seed beads or feathers by incorporating them into the painting, or may affix gold leaf in the tradition of Renaissance paintings, and these symbolic objects create a dialogue with spiritual dogma. I am a Hybrid of cultures and races and my work embodies that Hybridization.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Meanly, Jennifer H.
Commitee: Campbell- Thomas, Barbara, Cassidy, Chris, Jenkins, A. Lawrence
School: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Department: Art
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: MAI 55/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Fine arts, Ethnic studies, Spirituality
Keywords: Antebellum South, Indigenous fine arts, Multiracial families, North Carolina, Oil paintings, Southern history, Tri racial history
Publication Number: 10123732
ISBN: 9781369002454
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