Keina Davis Elswick

Contact Information:
(415) 995.4934


Artist Statement:

I describe my work as Urban Folklore. The images depicted meld contemporary African American urban culture/history, with traditional African culture. All of these creations are centered around an individual's journey to Sivad. In my work, Sivad represents not only a fictitious urban village where all the people portrayed are traveling to physically, but an internal, spiritual journey. Each painting reflects an essential moment in an individual's journey. Ancestor Spirits, represented by blue figures, or blue light, help guide these people as they travel day to day in search of Sivad. Whether it is the story I saw when my eyes briefly connected with an old woman's eyes while walking down Mission street, or the feeling I got when I talked to a single mother struggling to raise 3 children...they all inspire my work.

I feel that a story should never be owned by just one person...but rather experienced by many. Storytelling has been defined as an oral tradition, folklore passed on to generations of people through speech, or the "tellers". In the tradition of an African Griot, I pass on the stories of everyday people. Rather than telling the stories verbally, I am sharing them visually...on canvas. I want these stories to be available to my generation as well as generations to come. These stories deserve a place in history, too.

Some major goals of my work include the following:

  • To inspire us to make connections between our ancestors and ourselves, between one culture and another, between the community and the individual.
  • To expose a humanized view of African American people/culture.
  • To expose the richness and importance of African American history.
  • To expose & encourage progressive, creative thinking.
  • To raise consciousness about the importance and impact of visual arts in our communities.
  • To emphasize the experiences that unite us as human beings.

Amel's Journey, 2003
26x32 Acrylic on canvas

The Messenger's Arrival is at Last Light, 2001
30 x 54 in. Acrylic on canvas

First Born, 2001
36x60 Acrylic on canvas

The Permanent Mark, 2001
16x20 Acrylic on canvas

Trying to Find my Way, 2002
21x30 Acrylic on canvas

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