A New Year Brings New Hope

Happy New Year One and All!

Not only will 2009 see the installation of the first black President of the United States of America, it will also bring a new sense of hope for the future.

Many of us have lost our jobs and our homes in the economic downturn of the past two years and families are still losing loved ones to cancer. The entertainer Eartha Kitt, age 81, recently succumbed to colon cancer, and there are many other reminders that more miracles are needed.
The good news is that the 5-year relative survival for localized breast cancer (malignant cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes or other locations outside the breast) has increased from 80% in the 1950s to 98% today. The 10-year survival rate may be about 80%, according to "Cancer Facts and Figures 2008." Hopefully 2009 will foster a gradual improvement in our country's economy, our status around the world, and the health of Americans and other world peoples.

Each year I donate at least 10% of all sales of my Kanika African Sculptures Survivor Art purchases to breast cancer research. The latest news is that the tide of new breast cancer reportings is starting to turn for the better. With our continued vigilance in leading more healthful lives and escalating medical breakthroughs into disease as a whole, we will hopefully see a reduction in all kinds of cancers.

Wishing you health and happiness in the new year. Sincerely, Kanika Marshall


4th Floor Art Show Adjunct to Freedom's Sisters Show

On October 25th, there was a fabulous gala reception for the Freedom's Sisters Show, as detailed in my Spirituality and Art Blog. Unfortunately, the local artist show on the 4th floor was not opened during the gala. I just had an opportunity to go to the 4th floor of the Sacramento Main Library (828 I Street) to view the local art show that accompanies the Freedom's Sisters Show. I enjoyed seeing the artwork of other female artists, especially those I did not know. I look forward to meeting the other artists, and I invite you to meet them too, on December 6th at 3 PM. We artists will have a round table discussion about our inspirations for the artworks. Come and bring your questions and give us your feedback.

The art show is open every day that the Main Library is open. Do check it and the Freedom's Sisters Show out. And bring the kids and grandkids so they can learn about an important part of African American history.


Kanika's "Fetish For a Cure" will be in the Freedom's Sisters Show

I was honored to be asked to participate in the amazing Freedom's Sisters show from October 25, 2008, through January 4, 2009, at the Sacramento Public Library, located at 915 I Street. Part of the Smithsonian Traveling Show, and developed at the Cincinnati Museum, this show celebrates the great achievements of 20 African American Women, including Mary McLeod Bethune, Myrlie-Evers Williams, Sonia Sanchez, Charlayne-Hunter Gault, Dr. Dorothy Height and Kathleen Cleaver.

Ms. Gloria Burt and her husband, Burt, came to my studio last week to select some of my sculpture pieces for the show. One that they selected has never been seen in a show before. Part of the mastectomy and Earth Mother series, it is a striking, somewhat disturbing figurative piece. The body is reminiscent of a strong periwinkle-colored tree trunk with a suggestion of legs and muscles pulsing upward to the pendulous breasts. Blood red feathers form a halo around the head. There is a suggestion of arms, or are they wings?

But the most arresting attribute, perhaps, is the left breast which is cut and flopped to the side, uncovering a brilliant blue color underneath. Instead of recoiling from the piece, though, Gloria found it interesting. I had no name for the sculpture. Burt suggested "Fetish" and Gloria put it all together by calling the sculpture "Fetish for a Cure." PERFECT!!!


Layers of Life

I have desired to create really tall sculptures for years, so preparing for my gallery show was the time to start! I wanted an all-tile six-foot tall sculpture that could be used indoors or out. But how to do it? I had to figure out what shapes and foundation would be the best, but not be so heavy that the finished sculpture couldn't be moved. My first effort resulted in a stella/obelisk out of pine; it was so heavy (33 pounds) that I could not add heavy clay tiles to it. I decided to make a 4" x 4" x 6' foundation out of OSB wood and affixed it to a strong 12"x12" base on a turntable. This framework was only 15 pounds and was ready for tiling.

It took about one month to make hundreds of 4.25" tiles using my extruder and slab method. They were catalogued by color and set in boxes on the workbench in my studio. I thought it would be simple to cover the structure with tiles, but was I ever wrong! First of all, only one side could be done at a time, so the structure was laid on the worktable and I began experimenting with which tiles looked best, row after row. Clay swirls, faces, glass baubles and other items were juxtaposed next to the tiles along one 4"x6' side, then adhered in place. The adhesive had to dry for a couple of days before the structure could be turned one-quarter turn. The second side was more difficult, for I want to have some measure of continuity of color and texture and shape between the sides. Arranging, rearranging, adhering. All three remaining sides were finished over several weeks time. Then grout was applied and other finishing touches.

On top of this colorful tower is a breast cancer survivor, inspired by my mother, Mary Marshall, who battled breast cancer for ten years. She is on top of the tower (her life), surveying all that is around her from her lofty position. Underneath her are the memories, or layers, of her life - both the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. She is satisfied with her present status. Confident in her nakedness.

This was a labor of love, to be sure. I held a contest with my customers to come up with a title for the sculpture and artist friend, Dianne Mattar, came up with the winning name: "Layers of Life." This monolith was featured in the 2008 California State Fair.

The tile structure was complex, interesting, colorful, dizzying even. But it simply was not enough. I needed something to tie it all together. So I topped the stella with a simple female form from my mastectomy series. She is relaxed, leg crossed, comfortable with her naked self, sitting on top of the world, in control of her life, loving the color and texture of her life. She is the epitome of "Layers of Life."

We all have complexities that put roadblocks in our way. It is our job to figure out how to deal with the good and the bad, the yin and the yang.


Here are pictures showing the progression of the creation:

Kanika in her studio, surrounded by boxes and boxes of clay pieces and tiles that she made, glass, stone.

A wooden form is underneath the clay pieces.

     Sample of one of about 15 boxes of clay pieces made 
     by Kanika.








May is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Perhaps the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is the most well-known of fundraising efforts for breast cancer research. In Sacramento, California, the annual race is usually on Mother's Day weekend.

This year, as in past years, thousands of women and their families and friends dressed in pink hats and pink bows to walk and run to make money for this worthy organization. After the spirited warm-up that starts the event at Cal Expo, the colorful throng proceeds through the streets for several miles. Serious runners, quick walkers, relaxed amblers, all spending their morning with supportive people. Doing their part to search for a cure.

Kanika Marshall donates at least 10% of all wearable survivor art sales to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Many more beautiful survivor necklaces are available on the Kanika African Sculptures website.


Julia Child - An Inspiration

Tonight I watched a retrospective on Julia Child, the "French Chef." Besides being an accomplished chef after many years of cooking school and lots of trial and error, she was also a down-to-earth teacher, college graduate from the 1920s, world traveler, and lover of all things French. And she was a coot o watch on TV! So personable, so approachable. Who can forget her dancing chicken show where she propped up a raw chicken and lifted it by its wings to pretend it was a dancing marionette? SO FUNNY! So Julia!

But Julia Child was also a breast cancer survivor. And in the 1960s when she was diagnosed, medical knowledge about the disease was not nearly as adept as it is now. Scary! Julia lived another 35 or so years after her mastectomy. And what a full life it was! Several television cooking shows, 12 cook books (first of which was the million seller "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and still wildly popular into her 80s, Julia Child was indeed an inspiration!


The Madonna Chronicles

Perhaps an unusual piece of survivor art, this Black Madonna is ________________ (you fill in the blank).


A New Year

We at Kanika African Sculptures hope 2008 brings more breakthroughs in research to quell breast cancer. Here is a beautiful piece that portrays that hopefullness.