War or Peace?
International Art Exhibition
Esther Iverem is a multi-disciplinary writer, artist and independent journalist. Her diverse body of social justice work includes four books, two digital media projects, several visual art exhibits and the podcast and show on Pacifica Radio, “On the Ground: Voices of Resistance from the Nation’s Capital.” Her latest book, Olokun of the Galaxy, uses poetry and images to tell a story of Olokun, an African spirit for the deepest ocean.
My work, be it visual art, digital, audio or written word, is about social justice and human existence—its history, current state and possible futures. It is also about the environment, including its mysteries extending into the universe. In my recent work, I interrogate physical and economic violence against people and violence against this planet.
My recent works are inspired by two Yoruba spirits, Oya, who governs wind, tempests, vengeance and communications with the ancestors, and Olokun, who governs the deepest part of the ocean, and so also governs souls of Africans thrown into the ocean during the Atlantic Slave Trade. I have created a series of contemporary Olokun figures, some of which carry images of African Americans killed by state violence and some that proclaim that “Water is Life.” In November 2017, I published a book of poems and visual art, Olokun of the Galaxy, which takes Olokun from Earth to other oceans in the galaxy—including the waters beneath the ice of Europa, the methane lakes of Titan and exoplanets.
My mother, the late Margaret Eleanor Curry of Philadelphia, taught me to sew when I was a child. Some of my earliest works of visual art I created as an undergraduate in college, (before turning my attention to writing), included photography and combining fabric with mixed media.
I am drawn to the common fabrics of my generation, including denim jeans, khaki and camouflage. These reclaimed fabrics are juxtaposed with fine silk or metallic finishes, as well as rough textures such as pockets, waistbands and exposed seams. Many of my quilts also include excerpts from my poetry books and computer printed images that add to the narrative of history and passage.