I Hopes I Shall Hab De Honor Ob Displeasing You All (2007)

In choosing the imagery, I was interested in showing some sort of transformation. I was interested in the process of revealing and the process of covering up the self. This mask becomes the perceived, or imposed, identity. The subject's mask references an American historical tradition, that of the blackface minstrel. This tradition is based in oppression, disenfranchisement, marginalization, and racism. Out of this tradition comes the black sambo. Sambo is made up of the colors black, red, and white. Sambo is a derogatory caricature of a male black person. He can be found in early American kitch, cartoons, and children’s toys. Another figure that Onye references is that of an Afro Carribean deity named ellegua. Ellegua’s colors are also black and red. Ellegua comes from an African tradition. He is the keeper of the crossroads. He becomes a symbol of how being bi-racial is like having both feet in two ...

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In choosing the imagery, I was interested in showing some sort of transformation. I was interested in the process of revealing and the process of covering up the self. This mask becomes the perceived, or imposed, identity. The subject's mask references an American historical tradition, that of the blackface minstrel. This tradition is based in oppression, disenfranchisement, marginalization, and racism. Out of this tradition comes the black sambo. Sambo is made up of the colors black, red, and white. Sambo is a derogatory caricature of a male black person. He can be found in early American kitch, cartoons, and children’s toys. Another figure that Onye references is that of an Afro Carribean deity named ellegua. Ellegua’s colors are also black and red. Ellegua comes from an African tradition. He is the keeper of the crossroads. He becomes a symbol of how being bi-racial is like having both feet in two different cultural worlds. Bi-racial people are also keepers of the crossroads. These current and historical icons are interwoven into a new character that inhabits the canvas space. This new character is both American and African; derogatory and empowering; white and black; new and old.

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