A tribute to the poetess Audre Lorde


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Audrora is a personal reinterpretation of Aurora by Guido Reni.
The title is the fusion of the name of Audre and Aurora.

The drawing celebrates her various facets by carrying out a research
on her poems and personal legacy whose rhizomes are spread out and intertwined
in a variety of cultures.

The whole drawing also owns a broader meaning.
It does not overtly tell us about the specific cultures it is showing, it rather proves that, amongst different cultures, a synchronous harmony is possible.
By celebrating them together, we celebrate the power of human eclecticism, subverting stereotype and conventionality.

Guido Reni’s Aurora (Rome, 1613-1614) depicted the allegory of the sun rising from the sea,
where the figure of Aurora - The Dawn, ballooned in the clouds scattering flowers accompanied by Phosphorus the little cherub next to her, the first star of the morning, the twilight.

The golden chariot of Phoebus pulled by four powerful horses from different colored cloaks,  indicate different degrees of light that precede the appearance of the Sun.
On the chariot, surrounded by Le Ore - Horai (Ὧραι, "Seasons"), sits Apollo wrapped in an aura of light leading toward morning.

The design is inspired by a study on Grenadian, Yoruba, Hausa, Dahomeyan and Akan Culture.
The reinterpretation plays on many of the verses of poems by Audre Lorde, which are also mentioned in the drawing  -  "For all of us this instant and this triumph" is engraved on the chariot wheel, and each character carries a piece of Audre's legacy.
So it features the Hours as dancers, Amazons from Dahomey, mothers and mythological figures, Phosphorus like a tender little girl, and Apollo as a fiery and blazing Caribbean carnival dancer who leaves the horses, in this version, unbridled, free to lead the chariot towards the light.

The Aurora, followed by the Sun chariot, is Audre Lorde, adorned with light fabrics, air swollen, who stands out against the purple twilight clouds.

From left to right

Grenadian Woman with Gwan Wobe, Gloria Joseph, Amazon from Dahomey, Grenadian Carnival Dancer, Sakpata Dancer (Benin), Yemajà

From left to right

emajà, Matadora from Carriacou's Big Drum or Nation Dance, Elewoo (Yoruba Hairstyle) Woman, Phosphorus as a little Girl, Hausa's Durbar style Horses

Audre is Mawu

The sun and moon goddess in Dahomey mythology,
that's why she is leading towards the light from the dark.
Audre is wearing a traditional Ashanti dress (Ghana) : Kente or Nwentoma (meaning woven cloth in Akan).
There is a small percentage of the population of Grenada of Akan descents, which also justifies the use of names purely Ghanaians like Kwame, Ato, Ebo.
This only reinforces the influence that the Akan and the Yoruba have had on the island.
In addition, the fabric's choice of Ashanti is justified by Audre often mentioned in "Sister Outsider"  sense of reminiscences of Kumasi, Accra and Cotonou.

After an extensive research on Kente cloth's textile symbolism and according to the colors that the fabric and its different meanings carry, I chose the following colors for her gown:

Black - Maturing intense spiritual energy

Blue - Harmony, love and peace

Reddish Brown - Mother Earth’s color, referred to the cure as a desirable permanent healing from Audre's disease

Gold - Spiritual loftiness, glory and prosperity

Not only the colors search has been deep but also of the patterns, because each embroidery on Kente's design has a meaning and those that I have identified and then drawn on the suit are:

Nkyimkyim - in the shape of zigzag and means "life is not a straight path"
Afa - the shapes that fit together and it means
"I got it"
Puduomma - a little shaped-diamond meaning "you’ve to exercise patience in everything you do"
Fatene - means go straight to Agyeman (a Asantehene - an Ashanti monarch benevolent with the poor)

Audre is bejeweled with gold as in Akan culture gold plays a vital and central importance for the representation of its own community.
According to a traditional view, gold is imbued with enormous spiritual value, a sort of indipendent living being. 
As Audre Lorde herself reminded in Sister Outsider I was alive. The sun was shining. I remember I was feeling a bit dull but rather relieved that it was all over, so I thought. I put a flower in my hair and I thought, 'It was not as bad as I feared.  
And again here she goes I'm inexplicably partial to women with flowers in their hair ,
reason why I put a lot of flowers in her hair (white peonies).
In some floral symbols Peonies are a symbol of healing : a sort of my personal pray to her desease to cease and her pains alleviated by the healing.

Hand Drawn with Luminance Caran D'Ache Pencils on Fabriano Paper

30 x 70 cm   |   12 x 27 in

If you’d like to discover more about the meanings behind each character portrayed
read the full Artwork’s document

(ITA version available only)