Osanyin is the Yoruba god of healing and leaves who often appears camouflaged in half tree, half human form.
The Osanyin Commemorative Portrait and Camo Project investigates camouflage in everyday life and within formalized rituals as protection on spiritual and corporeal levels.
Recent exhibitions have featured the first in this series of commemorative portraits of NEH Institute Fellows taken on location at Emory University in Atlanta during at the 2014 NEH Fellowship Summer Institute for Black Aesthetics and Sacred Systems when I first began to translate common depictions of Osanyin into contemporary portraits that involved a collaborative process with each subject in choide of location, positioning and consideration of final images.
A second iteration featuring Chicago artists and practitioners is upcoming.
While at the NEH Institute, I created a series of leaf drawings presented at the end of institute along with the portraits, all free-form from imagination rather than based on any actual plant. These I turned into Osanyin-inspired original hand-drawn leaf textiles and custom wallcoverings.
The leaf wallcovering was hand-cut and installed as part of Wan Chuku and the Mystical Yam Farm installation for Wakati: Time Shapes African Art curated by Moyo Okediji, PhD at OSUMA in 2015-16. This included 10-foot tall yam mount "trees" whose black-and-white stripe textile references dazzle camouflage as protection and its visual connections to Tiv traditional loom-woven textile 'anger' (pronounced "ahn-gair"), a gift given at achievment or family blessing.
For inquiries about Camo Coat orders, contact Denenge.