Rooted is Ella Maria Ray’s ceramic exhibit that merges West African adinkra symbols, akua’ma figures with clay quilts, bottles, “text-tiles” and masks inspired by women writers to offer viewer a rich sensory opportunity and a moment to bear witness to African visual, oral and literary tradition. Through her work Ray explores creativity, intellectuality and Africanity’s interconnection, and fired-clay, storytelling and anthropology are at the foundation of her work. She challenges viewers to “read” in each piece a narrative rooted in Africana aesthetics, and to dismantle any boundary that segregates imagination from rigorous analysis.
As an artist/anthropologist, her work entices viewers to celebrate and embrace their own inherent magnificence, while listening to stories that insist on being told. Rooted is on display in the fireplace lounge and Hartman Gallery through the end of May.