(A CONVERSATION IN PROGRESS)
I lived the first two months of 2017 in Cuba near a park called El Bosque. It's a gorgeous jungle inside of Havana. However, its sacred waters are being contaminated by the "ofrendas" or offerings by the Santeria religion that everyday leaves chicken sacrifices among other animals leaving them to rot on the riverbanks along with plastic bags filled with clothes, pottery and whatever items their Gods require.
I consider myself a spiritual being, my "God" is mother nature. I seek in all my practices to feed her well-being for the health of all living creatures. So when confronted with the practices of the Santeria I felt called to create a response.
When I told my Cuban friends I was planning to do a piece about the ofrendas they were worried I was putting myself and my photographer in danger. There is a lot of dark energy associated with the religion, they said, "Cuidado, es brujeria" or witchcraft, they said. My response, "Yo soy bruja tambien." I too am a witch was my response.
I decided that the art piece would be to create a ceremony in honor of the Santeria tradition, but also continuing ritual where they left off by cleaning up a small space in El Bosque as my "ofrenda" to Mother Earth. During the ceremony, I used every spiritual teaching I have ever learned to to protect myself which included wearing a ceremonial jacket I co-created with painter Ryan Jahn in support of the movement in Standing Rock, and a necklace I made specifically as a talisman to protect me while performing this ritual.
The act itself was very challenging. Emotionally and physically.
It is a prayer to the honoring of the earth. And it is still in progress.
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model, art director, clothing creatrix:::: Joui Turandot
textile painter:::::Ryan Jahn
photographer:::: Hussam Awadalla