The piece you see above welled up out of me before I knew what was happening. I was wax carving and carving and carving and before I knew it, this piece appeared. I instantly knew it was finished although I did not know what it was. At first I thought it was a heart and then I thought it was influenced by modern sculpture. But none of that felt right. Then I realized I was carving something deeply ingrained in the Diasporan psyche. Long before contemporary commercial reinterpretations of Danish folklore, ( I carved this piece back in 2016), I had carved a symbol of Mami Wata, the mermaid’s tail.
Mami Wata is a positive and powerful figure in African and African descendent religions and cultures. A vain deity, often depicted with a mirror and a snake, she is the bearer of good fortune and spiritual wellbeing. To some she is the bearer of fertility and guardian of all things jewelry related. (Now it all makes sense).
Her existence stems back to Dogon creation theory (the Nommo) and she is worshipped throughout the Caribbean and South America, particularly in Vodun (as La Sirene, and also associated with Erzulie) and in Santeria as Yemaya.