"Songs of Freedom", grew out of my personal struggle, but they originated in my observations of some of the enduring images of the Atlantic slave trade, the ones that are usually overlooked in the retelling of its epic horrors, the small glimmers of light in overwhelming darkness, like the small opening from the dungeon to the sea in the Elmina castle,(which I have seen), the square of light in the hold of a slave ship,(which I have imagined), and the fact, that many houses in the Caribbean, with its open , sun-drenched and windswept landscapes, have tiny windows and dark cluttered interiors: all small squares of bright light in dark, cavernous spaces.
This, you might rightly say, has nothing to do with me, but there is another angle : we are all locked in our own bodies, looking out through the windows of our eyes, our horizons limited as we are confined by the mental constructs of habit and custom.
In this way it was personal.
I worked on this series almost daily, returning after some short interruptions, but really just allowing the natural flow of intuitive creativity.
My friend, Kamala Dickson, visited from Jamaica and, after seeing the work, she sang about
“A Prisoner on the Hill ”, filling my house with her wonderful, soaring soprano.
She left the sheet music for the song, and I incorporated it in some of the works.
After finishing the 20th image, I decided that all had been said, though I still wasn’t quite sure exactly what had been said. I put away the work and didn’t return to it for another year.
When I did, it was abundantly clear to me what had happened: it was a process of liberation.
The first image is one of confinement and limitations, but the very last, in which all boundaries have been dissolved, is pure light and joy.
The creation of ‘Songs of Freedom” was a personal journey, but one of universal significance.
Scroll through the slideshow to follow the transformation.
Sten Print-on-Demand Original Design: