Thriving in Place: Kweli W. Kitwana - Saint of the Five Crops
30 x 38", acrylic on canvas
Saint of the Five Crops
She gracefully sits among the agricultural incentives of the enslavement of Africans and the colonization of America. Cotton, rice, sugar, tobacco, and indigo are the big five. The backdrop of the crops is a reminder of what was seen as her ultimate worth. As the cowries flow from the cotton, she knows, it is her grace that has the highest value. The resilience of our Ancestors is the only reason I am here.
African American Ancestors are Honorable "Saints
Because it's true--my African American ancestors are honorable "Saints", deserving of their rightful and unapologetic role in the resistance journey and perseverance. My sincere thoughts and personal deliberations have inspired these paintings during the recent Black Lives Matters uprising. The vulnerability of Black humans, asking for no more than to be left alone as we navigate our daily lives.
Black lives that started in American as enslaved people with no intent to ever be freed let along exist beyond the enslavers' enriching. During these times, I ask myself, how is it that I am here? As once my ancestors were stolen, and no one was thinking of a future for them. No one.
How is it, I wonder, that my ancestors were able to dream about the possibilities? The answers lay in-my own version of who is deserving of becoming a "Saint," someone who was once alive on earth, advanced and lived an extraordinary life, and whose guidance is still called on.
I am asking the viewer to pause for a moment. Look into these paintings' faces and imagine a Black person (not a slave), who found ways of nurturing their hopes, love, grace, and spirits. Black people continue to form bonds with one another and created observances, beliefs, and rituals, all of which provide the foundation for one of the world's most significant movements.
While my work often stimulates profound resonations among African Americans. New awakening of anti-Black justice has encouraged others to rethink and confront their distortion of historical events. Taking another look at American's responsible for the injustices. My art is an exercise of reflections. It's a perpetual healing journey of expressing my frustration with social and racial injustice. It is a gift, my voice, the ancestors, have given me.
I was inspired to create these, as I reflected on the resilience of African Americans' ancestors.
African American Ancestors are Honorable "Saints", deserving of their rightful and unapologetic role in the Black people's resistance journey and perseverance of our existence. Including the humbled role, we have served in the "making" of America. These paintings are a part of a growing series in progress.
Kweli holds an Associate of Studio Arts Degree.
(AFA), School of Art + Design at Montgomery College, Maryland. She serves as a Teaching Artist with the Museum of Children's Art, Oakland, and Youth Spirit Artworks, Berkeley. Her preferred mediums include fiber art, surface design, and mixed media. As a "green artist," most of her work is created using found or upcycled canvas and materials. Currently, Kweli is the owner of Movement Insight, LLC. She is a nationally-recognized professional activist and social justice facilitator and trainer.