2023 Solo exhibit “Grandma’s Garden”

Grandma's Garden
By Shea Maze

Maze recalls childhood, traversing Grandma’s garden carefully, in efforts to respect the natural world. At its peak, the Garden is lush and bountiful. Its spectrum of nightshades, gourds, grapes, greens, and more engulfs pathways, so when one comes or goes, it's easy to miss the details. 

This body of work is the byproduct of Maze’s reconsideration and examination of the Garden he experienced as a child. This time however, details were sought out.  A collection of cured white flower gourds from Maze’s past serve as the foundation for these works. Gourds have been dissected and reconfigured, each part of their anatomy playing a unique role in creation. Pigments from Grandma’s natural dye pots have been reserved for years as well, and these were used to achieve the various colors showcased. 

Gourds have served humans greatly throughout history. In warmer climates, gourds grow thick and durable enough that when cured,  they can be turned into canteens, utensils, musical instruments, and more. For this exhibit, Maze is embracing the spirit of Sankofa, a word from the Akan people of Ghana that loosely translates to “go back and get it”  by turning his Grandma’s gourds into artwork.

Through the development of these works, Maze returned to his childhood, subsequently embracing the beauty and accepting the struggles of his upbringing. Maze’s grandma’s house, which has been in the family since the 1960s, was always home, however, family division and trauma separated him from his grandma for nearly 10 years. Their eventual reunion happened when Maze was 23 years old. This was a major catalyst for his career as an artist, and led him to a deeper understanding of his culture, community, and self. 

Maze says this exhibit is an homage to his grandma. “I’ve realized that the Garden isn’t just a physical location; it is a manifestation of her nurturing presence. She is the Garden”

 Maze created this body of work during his artist residency at the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG).

Natural materials provided by Cecile Margaret Lewis
Curated by Journee Delu Howard

Down The Rabbit Hole
Gourds, natural pigments
Purple: indigo, madder, cochineal 
Yellow: weld, black hollyhock 
Understanding experimentation, and its impact on trajectory.

Gourds, stain

Gourds, mixed media, natural pigments
Green: indigo, weld, marigold
Pink: cochineal

Clay Pot
Gourds, mixed media, natural pigment, dried plants
Yellow: Marigold, weld, coreopsis tinctoria

Big Belly Blue
10-year-old indigo pigment, gourds, mixed media

Dua (Tree)
Gourds, stain, lavender

The Performer
Gourds, wood, stain

"Caveman Club" Lanterns

Fragments (Gourd Dissection) pt. 1
Gourds, natural pigment, stain, wood
Red: madderroot, coreopsis tinctoria, dahlia
30 inch diameter

Fragments (Gourd Dissection) pt. 2
Gourds, natural pigment, stain, wood
Green: Indigo, weld, marigold, dahlia 
30 inch diameter

U Ok?
Broken gourds, stain, mixed media
about 30'' to 36'' tall

Go Back and Get It (Sankofa)
Deconstructed gourds, stain, mixed media, natural pigment
about 55'' tall

Sankofa (SAHN-koh-fah) – A Twi word from the Akan Tribe of Ghana that loosely translates to, “go back and get it.” Its literal translation comes from the Akan proverb, "Se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenkyiri," meaning, "It is not taboo to go back for what you forgot (or left behind)." Sankofa is a phrase that encourages learning from the past to inform the future, reaching back to move forward, and lifting as we climb.
(Stockton University)