Bearden 100

#86 Conjur Woman As An Angel - No Date
By Romare Bearden

Selected by SOL’SAX

Conjur Woman As An Angel - No Date

I chose Mr. Bearden’s work “The Conjure Woman” because it subtly touches on a significant African retention found in the culture of Africans of the Americas. From The South of The United States through the Caribbean and South America, the simple white enamel basin, that the Conjure Woman sits over is a new world replacement for the widely used gourd in Africa. The secular gourd like the basin becomes sacred when used to create water blessed with herbs. The process of crushing herbs while singing prayers into the water basin, to call on the presence and assistance of Angels and Ancestors, is a fundamental practice in Bantu related religions. I have seen Practitioners of Santeria, Voodoo, Condomble and Hoodoo use enamel basins in this way.


Kings County, N.Y.

“SOL’SAIN’T THE SAMO SOL’SALTAR FOR SOL’STREAT” Juneteenth 2012 Mixed Media installation at the back entrance to The Halsey St. Station on The J Train, Bushwick

The title for my Work “SOL’SAIN’T THE SAMO SOL’SALTAR FOR SOL’STREAT” is a series of puns or homophones one spoken sound with multiple meanings such as:

“Sole Saint The Same ‘O’ Soul’s Altar for Sol’s Street”, Also

“Souls ain’t The Same ‘O’, Souls Alter for Sol’s Treat” and so on…

The SAMO SOL is a reference to Basquiats tag “SAMO”, which was short for same old shit. I have synchronized that tag with Elegba the African Angel of The crossroads. Elegba had a clear cultural strategy for being mimicked and dismissed as a clown in West African stories. He would creatively express himself through music dance and fashion till the detractors that were laughing at him started to want to be like him.  Through the power of cultural expression he changed his identity from clown to influential leader. The “SOL’SAINT” The “SAMO SOL” celebrates that Elegba spirit here in the U.S.

The “SAMO” African Culture at first only ridiculed as Minstrelsy clowns altered the mind of European-American detractors till they celebrated African culture as the heroic inspiration of Rock groups like The Rolling Stones. I use a traditional turn of the century minstrel clown with the mouth from the logo of the Rolling Stones who named themselves after their Hero Muddy Waters. Muddy Waters grew up in a time and a place where the only European-American perception of African American identity was as minstrel clowns he and his generation countered that by creating The Blues Man. The set of gourds filled with herb blessed water sitting in front of the altar in this work is a direct reference to The African spiritual knowledge that Mr. Bearden displays in his work.

SOL’SAX was born in Kings County Hospital in 1969. He still lives and works in Brooklyn N.Y.  He received a BFA with honors from The Cooper Union and a MFA with honors from Yale School of Art, he also studied abroad in Berlin the year the Berlin wall fell.  Since 1990 SOL’SAX has produced objects, images and performances that fuse African-American cultural heritages like Hip Hop, House, Reggae, Soul, Jazz, Blues and spirituals with traditional African religions like Yoruba, Congo, Mende, Akan and Fon.

SOL’SAX has received some notable honors in sculpture. In 2005 he received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture. In 2004 he received Guggenheim Fellowship in Sculpture. In 2001 he was awarded a public commission by MTA arts for transit and in 1996 he was a resident at Socrates Sculpture Park. He was the first artist to be given a solo show at Rush Arts and has exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum, The Queens Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, The Studio Museum in Harlem, P.S. 1 MoMA, Sculpture Center and the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles among other venues.