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Yemaya Asesu

Multimedia Installation Onaní: The African Presence in Latin American Art.
Taller Puertorriqueño Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

The painting of Yemaya Asesu is included as part of a trono or throne erected for the orisha by myself and my cousin, Omar Quirindongo a child of Yemaya Asesu. Within the throne are elements used in Santeria such as the elekes (collares or necklaces), the soup tureen used to house the orisha's sacred elements and fabrics representing the orisha's color. Sand is used to create the sense of a shore, since Yemaya represents the ocean. Other offerings such as seashells, sand dollars and star-fish are used in the exhibit. The interesting story behind this installation was presented to me one day when I received a call from the show's curator apologizing for damage created during a flood in the gallery, caused by a leaking ceiling. Upset, I arrived in the gallery to inspect the damages, but only found wet sand with bubbles as if I were standing before the shore. Next to the installation was a huge plastic bin filled with gallons of water collected off the floor. According to the curator the water had been softly flowing into the sand and receding as a result of the off-level floor. Her famous words: "Yemonja got her water!" (The curator was Brazilian, hence the spelling on Yemonja.)

This detail of an Eshu figure included in the Yemaya Asesu exhibit provides an up-close look at the results of the flood in the gallery Eshu is one of the warrior orishas who helps opens paths and doors. His image is usually created out of a mound of cement, with cowry shells forming the facial features.

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