'‘Transfiguration Series’'

“Transfiguration” refers to both the literal meaning of a change in form or appearance, and the religious story of Jesus emanating a divine radiance in front of his disciples on a mountaintop. Given the insidious history and palpable effects of Christian colonization and global images of a White Jesus in Africa, the figures in this series are the artist’s visual reclamations and reinterpretations of perfect, divine figures. The chalk circles behind them represent West African traditional divination boards on which the artist ritually cast 16 cowries, bringing the question of fate into the works. Many derivatives of African spirituality use cowries for divination, but cowries were also a West African form of currency. Paradoxically so during the slave trade, when Europeans used cowries to purchase slaves from African traders, who having no precedent for chattel slavery, did not know the fate they sold even their undesirables into. Where cowries represented small change, fractions of a penny, one could purchase and enslave an African man for anywhere from 4,000 to 40,000 cowries. Thus, cowrie shells have also been through a transfiguration, transcending the stain of the past to continue playing a spiritual role throughout the Diaspora. The windows behind the figures give the viewer a glimpse of the world, history, and elements that collectively contributed to creating the children, who have transmuted their circumstances and present themselves as divine, transfigfured images of power.