TITLE: Datura's Secrets
Datura's Secrets is a wetplate series named after the divine plant medicine, Datura. This nightshade can be deadly if wrongfully ingested; however, when communed with it respectfully, Datura can be a powerful guide and ally when navigating the shadow realms of the subconscious. Together, we have explored difficult transitions of the soul, broken from toxic patterns, managed heartache, culminating in new, empowered ways of being.
My aim is to draw audiences’ attention to healing the insidiously harmful constructs we internalize under the oppressive force of patriarchy, regardless of gender.
The works represent a dance with psychological and physical domination. As a mixed, racially ambiguous, diasporic Indigenous woman with a white settler father, I understood love to be intertwined with various forms of abuse including manipulation, rejection and withholding in order to maintain dominance and control.
In adulthood I experienced disempowerment and illness within the confines of an intimate partnership, echoing wounds from unresolved dysfunction and damage done by patriarchal indoctrination in childhood. The harm was masked by the intent and power of love. It was Datura that facilitated my ability to let go of the harmful familiar in favour of the liberatory unfamiliar.
This work symbolizes liberation from toxic relationship dynamics that give life to “demons”. Drawing on my internalized relationship to the impacts of patriarchy, the visual story begins with the hanged self on a crucifix, symbolic of the trauma of detachments from ancestral communions with the earth, imposed by Christo-colonization. It continues with a series of images depicting personal demons birthed from the oppressive norms that sever our attachments to self. All have a common undercurrent: the constant search for love and approval in another. The final images resolve the story with the quiet resurrection and unconditional love of the self.
AUTHOR: Alexandra Black (Canada)
Alexa Black is an artist of mixed Nahua, Maya and Irish heritage creating as a guest on traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Xwməθkwəyə̓ m (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Through self-taught explorations in photography, drawing, painting and mixed media arts, Alexa found her passion deeply embedded in antiquated techniques of photography and classical illustration. Enamoured with tintype and wet plate collodion processes, she learned the foundations through a 3-day workshop with Quinn Jacobsen.
Black seeks to reveal the magic of hidden realms that exist in parallel to our terrestrial and colonially defined reality. Her art is ignited by the energies of her indigenous ancestral territories, animism, and being an ally to marginalized populations. The work is built by reconnecting the seams of her fractured identities, by reclaiming and amplifying the voices of her silenced ancestors from matrilineal blood lines. Black divines dreams and visions shrouded in haunting atmospheric aesthetics that are symbolic of life's beauty and cosmic initiations. Her work is primarily dedicated to deconstructing the disconnected and damaged societal tissue imposed by colonial standards of living.
Alexa has been a featured artist in galleries across BC and internationally in Los Angeles. Her drawings, films, and paintings have been featured in published works such as Invisible City and Discorder Magazine. Recently she was awarded the Concept to Realization Grant by the Canada Council of the Arts and Native Earth’s 40 seeds for 40 Seasons award to produce her upcoming 78 piece innovative and intersectional tintype/mixed media collage oracle, inspired by a traditional tarot deck. This evolving body of work is to be featured in SEITIES analogue print publication and shown in Toronto at Weesageechak 35 this fall.
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