Hey friend, I have a new piece called It’s A Balancing Act. Remember when I told you about the story behind my piece “Breaking Bread“? Don’t remember? Here’s that story again. Anyways, my maternal grandma owned a bakery and that was the main source of income for my mother’s family.
Consequently, growing up, I spent a lot of my time behind the scenes in my granny’s bakery. You see, my granny’s bakery didn’t have a store front. It was a wholesale bakery for other business owners who’ll resell the breads directly to the public.
My grandma’s customers therefore were people who bought very large quantities of breads to resell. As a result my grandma baked a lot of bread and there was always a ton of work to be done around the bakery. She was always grateful to have an extra pair of hands to help around.
I fondly remember the weekends, summer breaks, and holidays I spent helping in the bakery. I would clean loaf pans, oil them, and prep them for baking. Other times, I’ll help carry dough from the huge mixers to the work tables. Then, I’ll cut, knead and shape dough into loaf pans. Next, I’ll help load the pans into the wood burning stone oven.
The oven was so large and so dangerously hot that children were never allowed to get too close to it. There was a boundary beyond which we were not allowed to go. An adult will pick up the baking pans from that point and load them into the oven. I remember very clearly that was the job of the younger of my mother’s two brothers. And he was really good it. No one was better at loading the pans in the oven, nor at stoking the wood to maintain the right baking temperature as my uncle.
Looking back, it’s amazing how they did it. The ovens had no thermometers, nor did they use individual thermometers to check the internal temperatures. However, they rarely burned the breads. I can’t ever remember that happening. Whenever it was time to get the breads out, they amazingly had well baked breads.
While we waited for the breads to bake, we’ll clean up, and chat. As soon as the breads were done, we’ll line up to transfer them out of the ovens; which were outdoor ovens; into the main bakery. By the time the breads were ready, we already had people waiting to buy for resale. And those resellers who lived nearby always knew when to come and buy because of the aroma.
As a young woman, what I found interesting was how these women built and run small businesses around my grandmother’s breads. Not only were they juggling the demands of running their own businesses, they also had homes to run as well. I learned a lot about work ethic, perseverance, and taking care of family by watching my grandma and all the women who she worked with balance the many aspects of their lives. These early examples gave me an immense admiration and respect for women.
As a person with African heritage living in the diaspora, my work tries to honor Black women both on the continent and in the diaspora. This newest piece of mine – It’s A Balancing Act”- is an acknowledgement of my deepest respect for the women on the African continent. Those women who came before me, paving the way for me to be here today, and those who continue to raise the next generation of amazing women, I say “Ayekoo”.
“It’s a Balancing Act” was a labor of love to create. This is a large piece in which I used some appliqué techniques I hadn’t tried before. This piece is part of my Joy of Everyday Living series. I’ve come to a place in my art practice where everything I create has a big chunk of myself in it. I pour my soul into my work. Every piece I make has to mean something to me. And I won’t have it any other way.
Friend, I hope you enjoyed learning the story behind – “It’s a Balancing Act”. If you’re interested in acquiring this piece, contact me here.
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Also published on Medium.