Hey Friend, The Joy of Living is found in simple everyday things. Yet these moments come and go so fast that it’s easy to forget them and to focus on the unpleasant moments which somehow, tend to linger in our minds longer than the joyous ones do. When someone says something to you and it makes you light up with a smile, how long does it last? Think about it. Really. How long do you wear a grin on your face all lit up about something or someone? Not very long. Right?
Yep. That’s exactly what I mean when I say joy is fleeting unless you capture it.
In this new piece of work titled – “All Lit Up”, I capture the joy on the face of a young woman with threads and inks on cotton fabric.
Firstly, the twinkle in her eye, and the creasing at the corners of her eyes as she’s all lit up, reveals her inner emotions.
All Lit Up – Hair Styling
Furthermore, in “All Lit Up”, the subject is wearing an updo hairstyle. High hairstyles towering on top of the head have been a part of African traditional coiffure for ages.
Most importantly, the head being the most elevated part of the human being is believed to be the closest part of our bodies to the Divine, the heavens or the gods. Therefore, the higher your hairstyle, the more easily you can communicate with the Divine. (Similar reasoning behind wearing elaborate hats)
In “All Lit Up”,I decorated the hairstyle with cowries. Cowries are the yellow/orange oval shapes you see hanging from the hair. Cowries are the shells of a variety of small sea snails (between 1-4 inches in size), which are found in the coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
In appearance, cowries look like porcelain. As a result, the original word for porcelain in the Italian language is similar to the word for cowries. The variety of cowrie shells called the golden cowrie was worn by royalty in the Pacific Islands. Until the 19th century, the money cowrie (a yellow variety) was used as currency in Africa, Asia, and other places.
Moreover, in Africa, not only were cowrie shells used as currency, they were also used as body adornment, jewelry, hair decorations, sewn into clothing and more. As a result, wearing money (cowrie shells) on your body was definitely a status statement.
Although cowrie shells are no longer used as money, their relevance as a symbol of wealth is still appreciated today. For example, in Ghana, my native country, the national currency is the Cedi. Cedi is the name for cowrie in one of the most widely spoken local languages of Ghana – Twi.
In conclusion, I’m happy to present “All Lit Up” to you. It is beautifully adorned inside out. Outside, with her beautifully adorned hair and clothes. And inside, with her brilliant smile that radiates out, capturing a moment of joy.
This piece is part of the Joy of Living series (explore the series).