I’ve been standing in the kitchen for what seems like years just stirring. This damned roux won’t brown up. I’ve spent so much time getting all the ingredients together just so; the turkey brined, cooked, made into stock. The okra was a deal to find. The vegetables were easy. But the roux! I know, give it time. It’ll brown and the rest of the ingredients will meld together to make this gumbo the labor of love and technique that speaks of a deep understanding of what it takes to get
this thing right.
I started in music. I only wanted to do ‘real’ music..rootsy, soulful and elemental. I wanted to get to the core of what music is in the way it lifts the spirit from the inside. Music took me on the road. I went ‘off road’ to search for the ‘yard shows’ done by artists who would never think of themselves as ‘Artists’. The art was so much a part of them that they just couldn’t contain it. They WERE art, and they were everywhere; in roadside shrines commemorating a loved one’s passing, in hand painted signs that warned of our ultimate destination as Hell if we didn’t follow the rules, in the singular vision of a woman who knows how to make a pie that’ll make you weep.
Then I started using my hands instead of my voice. Visual art gave me a more solitary way to explore how to surround myself in physical beauty and meaning. Trial and Error was my alma mater. I played with all sorts of materials while creating shrines big and small. I ‘did’ cars (embellishing 9 over the years), cremation urns, taxidermy animal forms, etc.
Then I went to Haiti.
My first trip opened up questions about physical home, one’s spiritual ‘home’, how one ‘gets by’, what one must risk during the creative process, what IS the creative process. With every trip I found more questions as well as a few answers. For the last 2 decades I have traveled to Haiti several times a year to study and work with artists and spiritual mentors. In 2007 I wrote a book (long in the making) about the incredible artists who use sequins as their medium. Then, in July 2013 I became fully initiated into the priesthood.
Forming synapses that link my work in Haiti with my American sensibilities has been both a challenge and a joy. There is a leap of faith necessary to land in that place where serendipity, spiritual belief and the physical act of creativity meet.
So, I continue to stir the pot to try to keep the roux from burning and get that ‘thing’ right!