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Arch Creek County Park, Miami, FL

Cymbee waters of healing

For context, the artist states that in the southern US Atlantic coastal region, limestone formations have waterways beneath the ground. In some cases, these water-filled cavities open to the surface resulting in pools or fountains flowing up and out of the earth. In 1843, agriculturist Edmund Ruffin wrote that Robert Mayzck, owner of Wadboo plantation (SC), told him that the African- descended people in the region believed such pools were inhabited by a spirit they called cymbee. The cymbee are a focus on the spirituality and the related practice of folk medicine of those people of coastal southern agricultural region, and on some of the contributions historical archaeology towards understanding the quest for spiritual and physical well-being. The artist offers photographs, and comments that traditional knowledge will always be a valuable resource for future generations; Indigenous and maroon communities mostly have used it because of the availability of these plants and its cost effectiveness. Ethnobotany aims at the preservation of valuable traditional knowledge for generations unborn in other communities. The focus of this art project follows a meandering geography.

Onajide Shabaka was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He took an interest in art in a high school photography course. After high school, he studied at Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA) and California College of Arts (Oakland, CA), until earning an MFA from Vermont College of the Fine Arts (Montpelier, VT). In the past ten years, his practice has included art writing and independent curatorial work. In 2020, he had a solo exhibit “Onajide Shabaka: Alosúgbe: a journey across time”at The Studios of Key West, Key West, FL.


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