Myths, Legends & Folklore
Open Art Calls Accepted Artists
San Jose, California USA
As a West Indian I am deeply inspired by the indigenous culture of the Caribbean. Though my work uses these traditions as a foundation, it diverges from them through my desire for more visibility and representation of West Indian art within museums. What also fuels this divergence is the void between my ancestry and me. Much of West Indian culture was influenced by African culture because of the influx of slaves during the slave trade. In my work I show how African culture and the Arawak indigenous culture merged along with Indian, European and other cultures introduced through colonization. Because much of the history was lost during colonization, many west Indians cannot directly link themselves to their ancestors, their legacy. In my work I use the indigenous culture of the West Indies to recreate and reclaim my culture through art. I use the goddess Atabeyra and her story as the basis to allow for a new story of deities and culture to arise.
In West Indian folklore representations of Atabeyra occur in metal amulets, prints, and in the preparation materials used in childbirth. Her name has been interpreted as meaning “Mother of the Waters” referring to her control of the fresh water rivers and lakes contained in her earth realm thus connecting her to the moon. Atabeyra’s squatting position imitates the position women take in childbirth. Atebeyra is also known as Mujer de Caguana or Mother of Creation. She has many functional names in Arawak religion and culture and these include Atabei, Atabex, Guimazoa and Guabancex the goddess of hurricanes. As an “Earth Mother” and “Mother of the Waters” she is also known as Attabeira, Atabey, and Atabei, as well as being a supreme goddess.
In this work Atabeyra is represented in batik. A textile technique using wax and dye to create colourful patterns and shapes.
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