Written by Iyalorisa Amma Oloriwaa! | Edited by Darasia Selby-Adebisi | April 1, 2014
My good friend, artist kwenci jones, recently exclaimed “The Orisa tradition is a religion for artists!” The idea of art as an expression of worship is not at all far fetched when thought of in the context of African Traditional Religions or ATR’s (an acronym using the letters A,R,T!) The universe is awash in magnificent hues of color and kaleidoscopes of temperatures and textures. We can imagine the artist Olodumare wielding a deity laden loom, paintbrush, and potter’s wheel, setting the frame of this ever-changing canvas.
The swirling planets, shooting stars, comets, and supernovas of our galaxy are the creator’s personal mobile abstract art pieces. Right here on our very small blue planet Earth, Orisa are constantly creating new artwork for us to appreciate. How often do we admire the sunrises and sunsets and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a master painter is at work?
The artist is sometimes subtle, taking centuries to arrange the continents until they are placed just so, or move the mountains and glaciers until they are aligned to catch just the right amount of light and dark. There may be special exhibits of lunar and solar eclipses, aurora borealis or, just for fun, a bioluminescent performance of glowing sea algae.
How cool is that?
When the artist is out of subtle mode, we can see Oya’s tornado rearrange the tapestry, Yemaya’s sea rise and swell in a choreographed dance with Osupa the moon, Shango’s booming thunder-drum-filled light show, lush thickets of the Warriors’ green forest, and Aganju’s hot lava carving new sculptures as the waters of Oshun flow in a musical interlude.
Obatala, the original sculptor, (or Oduduwa, depending on who’s telling the story), formed all of us from clay, creating miraculous masterpieces, enveloped in the virtuosity of these artisans.
From God’s hands to ours, talent continues to flow.
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