Afrofuturism and Identity

Some define Afrofuturism as a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism as the basic elements of Afrofuturism.

My work builds a bridge not from just a point of view of blackness but across race, gender, the world and beyond. It is a culmination of years of practice developing my own signature style of Plastic Space abstract and the connection of masks from around the world. There are a lot of different elements of Afrofuturism that are evident in what I do and the most prominent is identity.

In my Plastic Space the element of the negative space represents the vastness of the universe. It is ever present because of the personal notion that all things have evolved from the universe and we are all connected by the space dust that is the essence of all things such as the planets, stars, plants, rocks, animals … even you and me. I have also become aware, through my studies, that all cultures on this planet have evolved some fashion of mask as part of their culture. Most being used for religious, entertainment or culture building purpose.

The beginning of the Maruvian Mask series was inspired by a customer looking at my art in 1996 during the Black Arts Festival in Atlanta Georgia. A lady saw one of my masks that I had on display and made the comment that she liked it but couldn’t hang it in her home because they were evil. I asked her where she got that information and she could not recall but she was very strong in her belief. That prompted me to begin my serious research in earnest to find the difference if any between evil masks and good masks. Why African masks were labeled evil and all others around the world were considered acceptable? I researched in libraries, museums and interviewed a number of African visitors as well as interviewed African artifact experts. I discovered that a lot of that fear of evil African masks is negative propaganda that keeps African Americans from discovering our history. Otherwise England would not have stolen so many of them for the rich private collectors and Museums that have them on display today.

Yes, I did find a few that were created for evil purposes, but the vast majority were for positive culture building. So, I focused on ancient masks that had a positive nature for my series and used artistic liberty to abstract them and combine them into various configurations for esthetic purpose. Naming them after my business, Maruva DQ, Inc. to become the Maruvian Mask Series allows me to combine ancient African masks with ancient Native American and other ancient masks from around the world. Now I am able to create a new interpretation of the old into the futuristic.

About the Author:

Marcella is a visual artist that made a leap of faith in 1995 and took an early retirement from a successful elementary teaching career of 27 years. She and her husband moved from California to the Atlanta area to continue as a full time artist. She has a formal education in the arts, and has been a creative visual artist for over 40 years.

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