02 Mar 2018

Kesha Bruce: Weapons for Spiritual Warfare

Morton Fine Art

Reviewed by Stephanie Lee Jackson

The patchwork symbols arrayed in Kesha Bruce's luminous paintings feel like scraps of ancient garments, rescued from a flood. Squares of canvas, paint-logged, layered, and worn, are assembled in combinations that evoke a half-remembered ritual.

Bruce's iconography derives from Hoodoo, a West African spiritual practice which evolved in the Mississippi Delta as a result of the slave trade. She absorbed the tradition as a child, watching her grandmother drawing spells in the kitchen. Recurring symbols, such as a crossroads, hold specific meanings - dispersal, banishment - which shift with context, like words in a poem. The act of painting becomes the working of a rediscovered spell.

Her paint handling mirrors the Hoodoo use of body fluids in spell casting. The rich textures appear to emerge from generations of handling, with few intermediary tools. The largest paintings exude the determined authority of a heritage shattered and painstakingly reconstructed.

Exhibition Kesha Bruce: Weapons for Spiritual Warfare
Start date 16 Feb 2018
End date 07 Mar 2018
Presenter Morton Fine Art link
Venue 1781 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC, USA (at 18th & U Streets) map
Image Kesha Bruce, The Sky Opened For Her, 60 x48, mixed media on canvas, courtesy of Morton Fine Art

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