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44” x 44”
Acrylic, ink, spray paint, dyed linen on raw canvas
2024

 

Through her poem Unnamed, Porsha Olayiwola uses her voice to respond to the following comment captured on TikTok by a caucasian woman: “Black people are notorious for naming their children 25-letter names that they’re never gonna get even pronounced right let alone spelled right, why would you do that?”

Knowing the origin of one’s name is a privilege. Porscha Olayiwola points out how having to bear the name of your oppressor because it is the only title you’ve ever known, is a life sentence of re-traumatization. The motivation behind this piece is based on an abstracted concept of a map and what it might look like to imagine people who share the same history, trauma and origin stories scattered all over the world. The small textile “petals” that reference the magnolia tree from Porsha Olayiwola’s poem were cut out of large sheets of 100% cotton linen, some of which was naturally dyed a soft pink with avocado skins, some of which are covered in text from the poem Unnamed. The namesake origins that Porsha Olayiwola speaks about carry the paradox of triumph and eventual freedom from slavery in tandem with the permanent stains and painful markings of an unjust and brutal history that precedes it. 

To arrogantly question the intention and “absurdity”  behind names of different cultures and “otherness” is a golden privilege of the oppressor.

 

Listen to Porsha Olayiwola’s poem Unnamed here.

Purchase her book here.

 

The VOICES (That’s What She Said) collection is a celebration of the way women have used their words and voices to empower themselves and others. This collection was exhibited as an audio-visual immersive experience at the McMaster research-based performance LIVELab theater in Hamilton, Ontario during Hamilton Arts Week in which the theater was converted into a gallery space where original works of art were displayed in tandem with streaming audio featuring the recorded voice of the original woman speaker. 

The chatter of all the voices over the speakers at once created a sense of chaos and confusion, prompting attendees to ask themselves the questions: Whose voices are you giving your attention to? Whose voices deserve more or less attention? How do you discern who you’re listening to when confronted with an overwhelming amount of noise? In a time when social media and mainstream media has the potential to distract from the important messages that women are eager to share with the public, the VOICES (That’s What She Said) audio-visual immersive exhibition acts as a physical reenactment of the media platforms in which women’s voices are either being elevated or dismissed, depending on the audience.

At the risk of overpowering the valuable and impactful messages behind each woman’s monologue, speech or poetry, the artist has decided to depart from her usual format of accompanying her original pieces with poetry of her own, and instead is focusing on communicating the intention behind each work as it was inspired by the words of another woman. 

The artist highly encourages the viewer to listen to the original speaker’s voice as she delivers the words she is speaking to a public audience, and where possible, links to purchase the original speaker’s work are provided. By choosing to listen to the words spoken by women through this collection and through other forms of media, the viewer/listener is contributing to elevating women’s voices. Women have value. Their words hold weight. Their experiences matter. After years of existing with the primary purpose of being “seen”, it is time for women to take up more space in platforms that allow us to be seen AND heard.

 

More info about this product:

This painting was hand-stretched by the artists on 2" gallery profile frames. It can be hung as an exposed canvas, or framed in a floating wood frame for a more polished look. This painting comes with an artist statement and signature. If you purchase this painting you will be contacted by the artist for more information about pick-up options in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, or delivery/shipping information. 
*Decorative frame not included*

Please note that the buyer is responsible for any shipping charges and/or for picking up the painting, but the artist (or gallery) will facilitate the process by obtaining quotes, packaging the product safely, and bringing it to a shipping centre at no extra cost. Reach out to the artist directly through the Contact page for any inquiries regarding this piece.

*This is an original painting by Tania LaCaria, there is only one in the world. Frame not included.*