A project I did for my Western African Art Class.
Aale turn everyday items into a culturally powerful object. Aale objects are meant to keep away thieves in African Culture, and even though they look quite ordinary to some eyes, they are loaded with hidden meaning and significance
I made my very own aale out of objects from nature that might not otherwise meet. These include a dried rose, a flowerless stem, a starfish, shell, and lastly a mushroom. Each of these objects have meanings, both historically and too me personally. A rose is very commonly used as a symbol for love. I used the dried and broken rose to symbolize the death of this love. A starfish can also be used as a celestial symbol of love but is also the symbol of regeneration. I found this fitting since a thief in Yoruba culture doesn’t get any second chances. Once you are named a thief you stay that way forever. A shell is commonly used as a symbol for fertility in some cultures as well as an empty shell symbolizing a barren womb or lack of soul. Lastly a mushroom is a symbol of all things strange. That something will happen that will lead to a strange and unpleasant life.
My first piece I chose to draw, as I would have seen it before learning about African culture and aale’s. The objects are bright and full of life. They are exactly depicted as they are in life. However for the second piece I went the complete opposite. I looked at creating this piece as if I was someone looking at my aale and trying to decide whether or not I was going to steal what it was protecting. I would know the hidden meanings of these objects and how they personally affected me. Instead of a pink rose bud I would see a broken and bleeding heart. The petals would become blood drops and lose their joyful color. When I look at the empty shell, dry starfish, and shelf mushroom I would see the death of me and my name and my family. That is why I chose to morph these items into a human skull, the commonly used symbol for death. To heighten these differences even more I did the first illustration on white to symbolize the blankness of knowledge that Western culture has for items like this. And then did the second illustration on black to emphasize the dark hidden meanings.