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A Parable

Boston, MA:  Friday night, I unexpectedly got to see the marvelous exhibition “Fiber Sculpture 1960-Present” at The Institute of Contemporary Art. The photo is of “Sistah Paradise’s Great Wall of Fire Revival Tent,” 1993-2009, acrylic and cotton yarn, by Xenobia Bailey. The story is a parable about Sistah Paradise, a fictional African medicine woman, or “Obeah.”  A slave on a cotton plantation, she uses the cotton to crochet a magic tent, in which, after entering and drinking tea, slaves will be transported back to Africa. The exhibition notes explain that “Sistah Paradise remains behind to help future generations rediscover their origins and establish a sense of collective identity.”  Straining to read text that I noticed on the lower back of the tent, I was rescued by the guide, Love Aridou, who had a written copy and read to me:  “She clearest my path, and prepares a blissful sanctuary in the presence of my enemies. She protects me with her gaze streaming from a treasure house of abundant grace.”

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