“Traveling is important to expose you to new ideas. Whenever I travel the lines and shapes in my work change. The community that we stayed with (in Zimbabwe) were a group of artists and musicians who are still very in touch with their native an indigenous practice which focuses on the metaphysical. One main belief is their belief in spirits. The spirit of an old ancestor, a patriarch of the village we stayed in was still very much alive and was being channeled through the village Shaman. For me, to visit places where people are already operating on this belief of the metaphysical existence is helpful to my practice. I was able to have access to things I otherwise would not have had because the community was very open to sharing which allowed me to experience something different. I asked if it was ok for me to paint as the Shaman was channeling the ancestor, he said that I could because it was my gift to see things through this unique lens.
The paper works are portraits of spaces, and time spent, in Harare: the women’s kitchen who tirelessly cooked for 18 of us each night; a portrait of Musekiwa while he sculpts a sardonic stone head; the last hours of a goat’s life preparing for slaughter to accompany the ceremony that welcomed us strangers into the intimate folds of the small Zimbabwean village; the “office” of a Shaman with its spirits flying around inside.
“We did another trip to Zimbabwe which allowed me to dive deeper into my own practice. We visited the same village and experienced the Shaman channeling the patriarch of the village again. I was able to focus and draw my interpretation of the energies in the room and I’m now working on refining those pieces.” – Justin Orvis Steimer