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All artwork this page copyright Meryl Ann Butler 2003

Oya: Goddess of Africa

c. 1999

37" x 72"

Collection Carol Ann Liaros

Oya, an African goddess, is associated with colors, the rainbow, lightening, dance, and “ajé,” or psychic powers.

This is a story about Oya:

Oya’s two brothers came upon a white scarf on the ground. The scarf symbolizes the attributes of the feminine: the weaving together of the different threads of life, into the cloth of wholeness. Both brothers wanted the treasure, and they argued, then fought over it, until they knocked each other out cold! Then Oya happened to dance by and she retrieved the scarf with ease. The meaning: the creativity of the Divine Feminine - the muse - can be claimed through joy, intuition and synchronicity, but not through competitiveness and violence.

In the 37” x 72” quilted fiber art shown here, Oya’s silhouette dances against the rainbow colors of the continent of Africa, with her treasure, the scarf. The profile of Mother Africa is evident in the image of the continent. (Can you see the green eye, and the profile of her nose and lips?)

Over 160 different fabrics were used including printed cottons, Ultrasuede, rayon, velvet and fake fur. Many of the fabrics are from Africa, including handwoven fabrics from Senegal. The fiber art wallhanging is embellished with carved wood animal beads, a brass mask and brass rings, ribbons, yarns, and metallic threads. It is comprised of over 600 separate pieces.

I created this piece of quilted fiber art in 1999. It is part of a goddess series in which I made two pieces, almost exactly the same, of each image. The artwork shown here is in the collection of Carol Ann Liaros. The companion piece was in my car in Los Angeles in August of 2001 when it was vandalized, and was stolen along with nine other works of art and the contents of my car. If you happen to see it, please contact me or the Los Angeles Police Department. In the meantime, Oya seems to be having her own adventure!

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