This piece pays vibrant homage to the seven powerful Orishas revered in African and Afro-Caribbean traditions and throughout the broader diaspora.
These seven African powers, known as the Orishas, trace their origins back to the Yoruba civilizations. When Africans were transported to the Caribbean, we brought with us sacred beliefs and traditions of our ancestors, including the veneration of the Orishas. In the Caribbean, these ancestral practices have evolved over time and been adapted to the new cultural and religious landscape.
This painting draws primary inspiration from the Spiritual Baptist religion I grew up witnessing in Barbados. The emergence of Spiritual Baptism in Barbados came in the 20th century and was influenced by the experiences of African and Afro-Caribbean people who faced restrictions and persecution for religious practices under British colonial rule. Like in other Caribbean countries, the movement represented a form of resistance and a way for people of African descent to preserve our cultural and spiritual heritage. As a result, Spiritual Baptistism in Barbados, like other Caribbean nations, practice a syncretic faith that blends African spirituality and Christianity elements. They often incorporate elements of African religious traditions, including ancestor and spirit veneration, ritual drumming and dancing, and trance possession. Christian elements, such as the Bible, hymns, and prayers, are also integral to their religious practices.
Some Spiritual Baptist rituals and practices involve invoking or paying homage to Orishas, and these practices often manifest during trance possession ceremonies, where practitioners are believed to become vessels for the spirits, which include Orishas or other African-derived entities.
"The Seven Powers" is more than just a painting; it serves as a portal into the universal reverence for these divine entities across the Caribbean. It transcends geographic boundaries, offering a profound appreciation of the depth and diversity of Caribbean culture. This painting connects the diaspora to their African roots and celebrates the unique Caribbean identity that has evolved over the centuries. It encapsulates the resilience and creative spirit of a people who have carried our heritage forward, enriching the world with the vibrant tapestry of our traditions.