Memory of our Dark Mother
2001, acrylic on canvas, 37 x 48", by Jenny Badger Sultan
This painting began with laying on colors and patterns relating to African and Egyptian motifs and fabrics. I used a resist process where I would paint or stamp a pattern with transparent acrylic mixed with a lot of medium then scrape over it another transparent color, allowing the first color to shine through. I layered additional deep transparent colors and introduced accidental textures and printed snakeskin.
After a while the image of a large Mother figure began to emerge in the center of the painting.
Other female figures appeared and I developed them, some relating to African sculpture, others from my own sources. I had been very moved by reading in the newspaper several years ago that the mitochondrial DNA record suggests that we are all descended from one mother in Africa. I was feeling my relationship to this maternal ancestor as I worked.
My imagination had also been stirred by the finding of fossilized footprints made in wet sand in Laetoli, in Tanzania, which indicated a woman and child from the time of the first humans had walked there together.
To relate myself to this amazing trace I stepped in paint and planted my own footprint on the canvas.