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TWO KINGS multi-media art tapestry is bridging the American continent to Africa, with the image of mythical West-African King Shango, of Oyo Nigeria. King Shango is considered a spiritual force of nature. Traditional Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria, believed Shango to be the spirit of: fire, thunder, lightning, and justice. King Shango (pronounced: Shong-go), is often represented with a double-ax on his head or as a streak of lightning or a clap of thunder. King/or Oba Xhango and non-violent civil rights warrior Martin Luther King Jr., are juxtaposed in the multi-media art tapestry titled: TWO KINGS.

TWO KINGS is a large 12 by 9 foot multimedia rt tapestry. The work is executed on a heavy hand-dyed upholstery canvas. Materials for TWO KINGS were collected by the artist during travels to: West-Africa, the Caribbean, with found objects from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Materials used to construct TWO KINGS are: hand-dyed canvas, African textile, quilting, raffia fiber, appliquéd sewing, assemblage, mirrors, sequins, leather, African cowrie shells, sea shells, brass cast bells and other found objects.

The perimeter of TWO KINGS is bordered by African-American quilted symbols used by quilters in the Underground Railroad; which were used by quilters in the Underground Railroad; which were coded to tell slaves when, what, how and where to escape. There are also African quilted, and appliquéd designs. The panel is divided by an appliquéd-quilted saw-tooth pattern called a “Lappet.”

Left side: Large image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. To the side of the of Dr. King are (3) three famous inspirational sayings/or quotes used by Martin Luther King Jr. Beneath King’s image is the ‘ dove of peace, ‘ and an African-American bas-relief quilted doll.

Right side: King Shango/ or Oba Shango as he is traditionally called; is a legendary figure revered by traditional Yoruba, African-Americans, Caribbean people, and in Brazil, South-America. Below the image of King Shango is his sacred ‘ Bata’ drum. On the side of Shango’s image are (3) three inspirational African proverb. Below the proverbs is an African styled female doll clothed in elaborate African textile and ornaments.

Two doll figures: On the bottom right and left of the work. The female doll imagery follows the Congo proverb; “Only the female body is strong enough to support a Society. “The dolls are also meant to lure young people and adult viewers, and show off the artist’s ability to quilt in bas-relief. The two doll heads at the middle-top of the work, and middle bottom of TWO KINGS are twins. In the folklore about King Shango, he is the protector of all twins. Among the traditional Yoruba people of Nigeria the twins are called: Ibeji pronounced: E-bay-gee). Twins are thought to be very lucky by traditional Yoruba people.

TWO KINGS juxtaposes civil rights icon Martin Luther King, with West-African mythical King Shango. The Todd Wehr Metcalfe Park building will serve a dual community use: TWO KINGS multimedia art tapestry has a dual visual concept. 

comments by artist: Gerald Duane Coleman, Milw. WI.

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