Oar Up or Down
 2021    49” X 31.5”

“I tell stories through my art, carrying messages from the ancestors.”

In African art, snail and octopus shapes are stylized in order to convey a sense of slow motion, persistence, and determination.

https://worldbirds.com/octopus-symbolism/

My young West African girl lives in a village of houses on stilts barely above the moving, muddy waters. Her only mode of transportation is a modest canoe and a magic oar to take her places. Oar Up or Down is perhaps one of the most multifarious works of my career. As I started the quilt, not unlike the current state of the world, it felt capricious and erratic. It was then re-worked, re-envisioned, distorted and finally metamorphosed somewhere between an enormous spell-casting tarot card and a large amulet for protection.

Either way, though the protagonist has “lost” her canoe, she sits majestically resembling an African queen with a cosmic collar. Her body has anthropomorphized into an octopus-like body, her face reflected on one of the tentacles. She chooses to move more slowly, steadily, with purpose and direction. She is persistent and shows great determination. She dreams and I dream with her.

Original design on 100% silk digitally printed, original design silk-screened on 100% cotton. Original design on 100% silk, digitally printed, original de-sign silk-screened on 100% cotton, shibori, wax block printed fabric, iridescent organza, domestic batik, Indian silks, costume pearls, seed beads, mother of pearl buttons, sequins, silver beads, cotton thread French knots, hand embroidery, silver and gold hand stitching with metallic thread, hand quilted.

Credits: Photograph by Anton Ivanov/Shutterstock.com, Original designed fabric by Leslie A. Golomb digitally printed by Papilio Prints using a Kornit Digital Allegro printer, Original design by Leslie A. Golomb silkscreened by PULL-PROOF master printer Matthew Van Asselt.

Determined
2021    39” X 38”

Denkyem, meaning a dwarf crocodile is an Adinkra symbol and proverb of adaptability, ingenuity, cleverness and mystery. (https://symbolsage.com/denkyem-adinkra-symbol/)

The child in each of us 

Knows paradise.

Paradise is home.

Home as it was 

Or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one’s own place,

One’s own people,

One’s own world,

Knowing and known,

Perhaps even 

Loving and loved.

Yet every child 

Is cast from paradise-

Into growth and new community,

Into vast, ongoing

Change.

by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower

Continuing my Oar Up or Down series I look further at my girl who lives above the waters of West Africa on houses with stilts. She uses a wooden canoe and her magic oar to go places, her only mode of transportation. I have a clearer view of her through the muddy waters. Though she is small, she is focused, she is resourceful, and she is clever. As she twists and turns, each stitch helps guide her on a pathway away from those who want to do her harm.

Digital silk-screened image on 100% silk, Original design silkscreened on 100% cotton, photo transfer onto organza, shibori, wax block printed fabric, parachute fabric, rayon, domestic 100% cotton, iridescent sequins, seed beads, cotton thread french knots, hand embroidery, iridescent thread, silver and gold metallic thread, hand stitched and quilted.

Credits: Photograph by Anton Ivanov/Shutterstock.com, Original Design by Leslie A. Golomb, silkscreened by PULLPROOF master printer Matthew Van Asselt

Breath of Truth
2020    25” x 47”

This piece was created during the pandemic.

It depicts how it is time for TRUTH to become the true fiber of our lives. We must lean back on the ancestors, gather our collective wisdom and our personal internal DNA and pour it into a vessel, to store it and make it accessible to others. Do the work. Search it out. It is time for TRUTH to be our guide.

Imported batik fabrics from West Africa, domestic 100% cotton, shibori, cowrie shells, sequins, french knots with cotton floss, hand embroidery, cotton and metallic threads, machine quilted.

Of This Place: Excavation
2016    41” x 49”

Camouflage fabric rests over cultural symbols: a metaphor to transport the viewer back to generations of indigenous and emigrant populations. The clean sleekness of modern structures conceal the sacred monuments and pave over the indigenous and emigrant cultures and their contributions. As the shiny “new” comes forth, a channel of reverence should flow through the old foundation and reveal the spirit that shines from within. Seek the past and embrace the future with respect, pride, and dignity for those that came before.

The elements of this piece represent the different cultures that formed the landscape: hand-pieced oak leaves (Canadian), printed burlap with fleur de lis (French), Irish chain in shibori (Irish), border trim (Greek), woven print (Native American), burlap spiral (multi-national emigrant miners), printed figures (African), cross medallion (Christian).

100% cotton, printed organza, upholstery landscape fabric, wax batik landscape fabric, cotton and metallic threads, hand and machine stitched.

Arc of justice – Yoke of love
Tributaries of Genius
2006 56″x44″

“In collaboration with the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council, Pittsburgh International Airport, VisitPITTSBURGH brought together a collective of exclusive artworks by 12 Pittsburgh-based artists on London’s vibrant Southbank June 3-9, 2019. Pittsburgh Art on the Bank is a multi-disciplinary showcase by well-known and emerging artists, offering an immersive presentation of the city’s diverse talent and artistry.”

https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/art-on-the-bank/

https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-art-to-be-showcased-in-london/

Of This Place
2016, 41” x 49″
At Home with Culture
2000, 43” x 37”
In endless nights our souls are guided by hidden forces that bless us with a second life surrounded by culture and ancestral worship. We are two bodies, physical and spiritual, living inside one soul with thoughts seen through our eyes and grounded by our feet.

Whose Shame Is This?
2018, 44” x 29”
Vintage sheet music is used to illustrate the evolution of the appropriation of African American imagery. The quilt depicts the cultural gifts brought through the music of the African Diaspora, and illustrates how derogatory caricatures were used to sell music written by white composers.
There Are No Mistakes
1997, 45”x 50”
Thank you kind spirit for taking my hand to watch the parade of souls whose triumphant past decorates the halls of histories yet unveiled.
Suddenly my hands create their thoughts and observations.
I see what they see.
I feel what they feel, and touch the smooth fabric as if I’m gliding over mountain tops.
Swift, warm forces help pave the way for me to see the duality of African Ancestors waiting to tell the story of the universe that only God knows.
I’ve remembered torment and pain like a lost child remembers a mother’s embrace, regardless of time.
Daylight dreams of sky-bound spirits help me get through the daily hassles of life.
Suddenly, I touch what is really behind each cloud and remember why we were sent.
— John M. Brewer, Jr., 1997
The Harvest
1989, 60”x 40”
Of This Place: Say Her Name!!! Say Her Name!!!
2016, 43” x 41”
A call to arms! Remember the women who dreamed, created, and helped clear the brush and plant the seed of the African American cultural experience. Say their names: Sandra German, Shona Jamillah Sharif, Meredith Watson Young
Diaspora Series: Rising From The Thicket
2014, 40” x 40”
Oh to Gory
1993, 65” x 31”
Goree Island, located off the west coast of Senegal, was the center of the slave trade between the 17th and 19th centuries.
“Gory” has a double meaning: The title of this quilt is not accidental, it uses a spelling for the term that is defined by violent, gruesome, brutal, and horrific acts.
The quilt not only depicts the horror of Goree Island, but also the spiritual strength, guided by the ancestors, in the singular figure who has risen above.
Diaspora Series:  Hidden Elegance
2014, 58.5” x 52.5”
Sing For Me Oh Gauley Bridge
2015, 32” x 36.5”
The headline read:
1500 Doomed!
(People’s Press, 1935)
While digging a tunnel at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, approximately 1500 unprotected miners, mostly African Americans, were overcome by a deadly release of fine particles of silica dust. The African Americans killed were denied burial rights in the nearby white-only cemetery. Instead, hundreds of bodies were taken to Whippoorwills Cemetery in Summersville, West Virginia and buried in unmarked graves.
Not until September 7, 2012 were the grave sites consecrated.
Fractals of the African Diaspora
2012, 22×26
Divine Plan
2003    90”x 50”
Diaspora Series: Cry In
2014, 33” x 51.5”
“A cry in happens when something unspeakable forces its way inside. A sudden alien message in your chest, guts. A cry in speaks no words. Like crying out, it silences language.”
from Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind by John Wideman. with permission
Crossroads
2018                33″ x 36″
I Come From A Long Line Of Big Boned Black Women
2002    44”x 31”
Permanent collection in Khartoum, Sudan as part of the U.S. Department of State, Art in Embassies program.
Diaspora #1, The Beginning: Growth
2012, 18.5” x 19”
Diaspora Series: As It Is Above, So It Is Below
2012, 42” x 34.5”