40 Beech St.
Port Chester, NY 10573
Description: Clay Art Center is proud to present "SANA MUSASAMA: My Journey," a solo exhibition that combines art, social justice advocacy, and community arts outreach with New York artist and global citizen, Sana Musasama. The exhibition, which features ceramic sculpture and installation inspired from Musasama's travels around the world, will be on exhibit May 18-June 22, 2013, with an opening reception on Saturday, May 18, from 6-8pm.
In conjunction, the artist will be an artist in residence at Clay Art Center for the duration of the exhibit, and Clay Art Center has initiated a string of community arts outreach events entitled, Inspire, Commit, Act... Admission to Clay Art Center is free.
In her twenties, when she began traveling, Sana Musasama realized that clay existed all over the world. After her education in the public school system in New York, she felt limited, locked in, and undereducated. Traveling became her way of relearning the world and its inhabitants. Her work is informed by history, women's studies, culture, and her journals of global citizenship. "My Journey," an exhibition of large scale sculpture and installation, will speak of those experiences, from the "Maple Tree" series about the abolitionist movement involved with indigenous Americans, African indentured servants, and Dutch colonialists, and "The Unspeakable" series, an inquiry into the nature of violence and healing in women's lives, to her current work, "The UnKnown/UnNamed" series, which focuses on honoring the lives of those lost to war and genocide. Sana has spent the past 5 years working and traveling in Cambodia. It is there that she found herself in the killing fields, walking on fragments of souls that once were.
Sana Musasama's work is grounded in the ceremonies of living. It guards their integrity and memory, and acts as a reliquary of historic events and her personal narratives. In her inquiry into the world, she sought to understand the human landscape. This transformed Sana and her approach to clay. There is no dichotomy between her life and her work, as her extensive traveling has made her relearn seeing. Her mission speaks of a global citizen who walks through the artwork heart first.
Inspire, Commit, Act?: Community Events with Sana Musasama. For the duration of the exhibition, Sana will be an Artist in Residence at Clay Art Center, acting as an advocate for her work in the exhibition and the social justice issues it invokes. While in residence, she will also be working on a new body of work. As part of her residency at CAC, Sana will have the opportunity to work with Latino and African-American youth of Westchester County, NY, especially young women, and will be a visual presence for them, inspiring them to commit and act on the belief that they too could be artists, should they want to be. She will be working with Port Chester's Carver Center's NIA group, a young women's leadership group, mostly made up of Latino and African American individuals, Port Chester High School students in CAC's "Around the World in Clay" community arts outreach program, and teen girls from Westhab shelter of Family Coachman Center, which is the largest homeless shelter in Westchester.
In addition, Sana will lead three public hands-on workshops in June in the gallery (alongside her artwork). For more details on these workshops, visit clayartcenter.org.
ABOUT THE WORK IN THE EXHIBIT About her "Unknown/Unnamed" series, Sana states, "My newest ceramic work was born out of the devastation of the 9/11 attacks and the hundreds of workers and others whose identity was buried under the rubble, the faceless whispers out of concentration camps, the endless mass graves throughout the world. It stems from my global travels to Cambodia, Vietnam and Rwanda - into the homes and hearts of the people I've encountered; these pieces represent their silent voices, which remain unknown and unnamed." "The earth carries the memories built on the backs of oppressed/unrepresented people and their buried bones throughout the world. At My Lai, Vietnam, I walk on the site of a massacre where the lives of hundreds of women and babies were taken in revenge. I touch the soil. At the Holocaust museum, I look at the hundreds of pairs of eye glasses, shoes, gold-capped teeth, and briefcases, and I wonder who they belonged to. In Rwanda, a young woman tells how she searched for her family at a mass burial site. I have worked in Cambodia with former sex slaves, wondering who enslaved them, and walked the killing fields, with their fragments of what once were human beings." "Will it ever stop? These new works are meant to slow us down, make us look closely at our world, silence us for the moment. They are created in homage to the Unknown/Unnamed." Additionally, work from Sana's "Unspeakable" series will be on view. About this challenging and poignant body of work, Sana shares this story: "Twenty-five years ago, while living in Mendeland, Sierra Leone, there was a group of young girls, ages 10-15, who would visit my hut every day. We began our rituals of sisterhood: they combed my hair, tried on my clothing, and applied my makeup. They taught me the formal greetings in Mende, how to sit like a Mende woman, eat with my tongue, and to never allow food to touch my lips. They showed me how to cook on three rocks and wash my clothes in the river, beating on washing stones. They taught me the birth chants, and I learned, too soon, to recognize the death song." "Suddenly, one morning, there were no young girls in the village. They returned thirteen weeks later, changed. Our ritual of sisterhood was no more. They no longer had the sparkle of wonderment in their eyes; they weren't carefree young girls any longer. They didn't want to have anything to do with me. I could not understand. I know now that they were circumcised (incised)." "MY JOURNEY" will also feature two large-scale sculptures from Sana's "Maple Tree" series. These sculptures were inspired by the Maple Tree abolitionist movement in the late 18th century in New York and Holland. Dutch colonists, Native Americans, and free indentured African servants joined together in protest against slave labor on sugar cane plantations in the West Indies. They took as their symbol the maple tree - a source of sugar without exploiting slave labor. At once trees and aspects of the human body, these sculptures explore links between trees and human sexuality, between trees and human agency. Sana Musasama (b. 1957, NYC, lives in Queens, NY) received her BA from City College of New York, NY (1973), her MFA from Alfred (1988), and studied at Mende Pottery, Sierra Leone (1974-75). Feeling undereducated by her public school education, Musasama began traveling as a way to recover identity and cultural place. Clay was a geographic catalyst that brought her first to West Africa, venturing later to Japan, China, and South America. She has continued her quest, expanding her interests to tribal adornment practices in various indigenous cultures. She is challenged by the concerns surrounding the safety of women, specifically the rituals involving rites of passage, female chastity, and the "purification" of the female body. She teaches at Hunter College, NYC; the 92 Street Y, NYC; and through CASES, a program which offers an alternative to incarceration. Clay Art Center is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit ceramic art organization offering exhibitions, clay classes for adults and children, studio spaces for clay artists and outreach programs in the community. It is located in the heart of Port Chester at 40 Beech Street, Port Chester, NY 10573.