In this profile portrait, we see an image of a young Black woman with a white head cover that is lined with cowrie shells. Both the head cover fabric and cowries are sewn on, adding to the overall dimensionality of…
In this profile portrait, we see an image of a young Black woman with a white head cover that is lined with cowrie shells. Both the head cover fabric and cowries are sewn on, adding to the overall dimensionality of the painting. The symbolism of the cowries is also important to consider here. Used as money as early as the 14th century, cowries were traded across Africa, Asia and Oceania. They also appeared in spirit bundles and were potentially used as talismans to resist slavery.
Edmonton artist Braxton Garneau’s process for creating his paintings starts close to home; most of his subjects are his siblings and extended family. They are posed, photographed, and loosely painted out. The canvas is primed, however there is a looseness in his brushstrokes and moments where the image looks unfinished. He draws inspiration from a variety of sources, and his approach is one that combines “traditional media/subject matter with raw and repurposed material serves to disrupt the historical notion of mastery and to democratize the privilege of viewership.” Garneau points out that he also “revisits traditional handicraft to explore the sociocultural history between humans and colonial goods.”
"2021.3.2 - Cowries, University of Alberta Museums Art Collection." University of Alberta Museums Search Site, https://search.museums.ualberta.ca/11-27228. Accessed 04 Jun. 2023.