Sacred Ornaments by Malado Baldwin—A PRS Library Exhibit on display until August 31st
Malado Baldwin (b. Malado Francine Baldwin-Tejeda) is an American artist based in Los Angeles. The daughter of Peace Corps volunteers and development workers, she spent her childhood in West Africa. Her diverse cultural and genetic background becomes a rich source for her telling of personal narratives as presented through larger cultural myths and histories. Highly researched and richly textured, Malado's work draws us into stories where symbolic artifacts from one culture can be reworked by another. New meaning is created in objects by allowing cultures to mix in surprising ways. The artist’s curiosity about her roots began a journey of exploration and discovery, and years of research into symbolic ornamentation across diverse cultures and religions. She began her research in our Library, so it is fitting to see her work displayed in this context, exemplifying our mission of the diversity of wisdom.
INNER LIGHT EMBROIDERIES (embroidery on fabric) 2018
The embroidered textile collars were made in the style of contemporary Senegalese embroidery. The designs are based on representations of sacred “inner light,” or “divine presence,” sometimes depicted as a halos or rays of light in Christian, Buddhist, and other religions. By flipping the imagery and turning them into vibrantly-colored ornamental wearables in collaboration with Muslim tailors, they become newly symbolic works of art. They are presented encased as in a jewelry display, as objects to ponder.
PECTORAL (3D print) 2018
The "wind breastplate" of the “feathered serpent" -a Mesoamerican iconic image of Quetzalcoatl’s pectoral is rendered as a 3D print as a "ghost image" in white of a disappearing artifact. Traditionally the pectorals were made of conch shells and worn by priests throughout the region of various religions, and through generations. As original artifacts, few remain. In Nahuatl, the neckpiece is called the ehecailacacozcatl, meaning the wind before a rainstorm, or the “spirally voluted wind jewel.” As the multi-faceted God of wind, air, and learning, the planet Venus, of arts, crafts, and knowledge, Quetzalcoatl is depicted as a benevolent God who taught humans science and invented the calendar.
HALO / CROWN (3D print) 2019
This 3D-printed “ghost image” of a halo, crown, or laurel, is based on depictions of the Virgin Mary in Mexican and Italian sculptures. Halos often represent a circle of light around a holy person or saint. It is a modern “pop” interpretation, which includes snakes, daisies, and moons. With thirteen extended rays carrying flowers, the Chinese lucky number symbolizes ‘assured growth’ and ‘vibrancy’.
TALISMANS / CHARMS (3D prints) 2019
In these jewelry-like 3D-printed objects, versatile symbolic talismans are fashioned in multiple mediums in geometries of colored plastic and plated metals. They recall Tuareg veil weights, or veil fasteners worn by the nomadic women in the African desert to keep their head scarfs from flying off in the wind, also called “assrou n’ swoul”, or, “the key which is thrown over the shoulder”. Made as wearable pendants or charms, they are intended to bring good luck and to unlock wishes.