Keina Davis Elswick

Contact Information:

Sivadart Studio / Urban Folklore Art:
email: Keina Davis Elswick


Artist Statement:

I describe my work as Urban Folklore. The images depicted meld contemporary African-American urban culture,with traditional African cultures & African-American History. 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 a pivotal 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. The journey is a metaphor for the experiences that unite us as human beings.

Many of the people in my work gaze face forward. I want the viewer to make a direct connection with their eyes. I believe the saying, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” When someone looks you in the eyes it becomes more difficult to ignore them, even if only for a second. Whether it is the story I saw when my eyes briefly connected with an old woman’s eyes while walking down the street, or the feeling I got when I talked to a single mother struggling to raise three children, they all inspire my work. I feel 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 stories of everyday people. Rather than telling the stories verbally I am sharing them visually...on canvas. I feel sharing stories is an essential part of our human existence, so I want these stories to be available to my generation as well as generations to come. These stories deserve a place in history, too. In my work I hope to inspire us to make connections between our ancestors and ourselves, between one culture and another, between the community and the individual.

I Want to go Where the Flowers Grow
2007 24" x 48" Acrylic on canvas

A Dream Deferred
2004 36"x 48" Acrylic on canvas

24" x 48" Acrylic on canvas

The Village of Lost Dreams
2004 15' x 5' Acrylic on canvas

Hopeful Eyes
2005 11"x14" Acrylic on canvas

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