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Work Samples

1. Beyond Bars video promo

Beyond Bars is a transformative program for women inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua, HI. Eleven women are part of an approved interview project organized by Tadia Rice based on a proposal we made two years ago. I photograph and videotape the women who tell their stories based on past, present, future format. The three face portraits were inspired by Hecate, the goddess of crossroads.

fall from grace

spirit sculpture
“Fall From Grace” is about hidden sin, repentance, innocence and deliverance. The recent sex scandals in the church is represented by this work. Materials: glass, wax, beads, bones and plastic 38" high.. Featured in the travelling exhibition "Ashe to Amen"(Bible Museum,NY, Dixon Gallery Tenn. and Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Balt.)

Sanctuary.jpg

Reliquary
Sanctuary represents the body associating inner and outward spirit. The base is surrounded by bullet casings, mirrors, keys and inside a butterfly, black apple, beaded flowers and wood. 5'h x12"x12"base

Empty Quarters

film from the installation Elemental:Fire,Air,Water,Earth (woman dress in an abaya wind blowing in the desert of United Arab Emirates taken with a cell phone camera) 24”d x 38” w x96” h exhibited at the Creative Alliance.

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About Oletha

Howard County

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Oletha DeVane received her B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art and M.F.A. in painting from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.   As a multidisciplinary artist, her social, political and spiritual concerns are the content of her art practice.  Her first major exhibition was at the Springfield Museum of Art in Massachusetts in 1976. Since then, she has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions locally and internationally. The... more

Beyond Bars

Beyond Bars project is a transformative program for women inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua, HI. The project has been a volunteer effort on the part of Tadia Rice and myself endorsed by the prison administration and the inmates based on a 30 page proposal we made two years ago. the multi-disciplinary project centers on the stories, images and performances of female inmates. It promotes community outreach and partnerships with organizations resulting in added qualitative value to the women’s recovery from trauma, substance abuse, and mental health issues. The Women’s Community Correctional Center’s vision is that their prison can be a “Puuhonua” (a sanctuary, a place of healing, and a place of transformation). These are the beliefs and values we embrace as we continue to try and establish a national program using the arts for healing. The portraits and a promotional video publicly introduce our project in order to seek funding. Some preliminary work has been done and the other portraits/videos are work-in-progress. They are all formatted to represent ­­­­Past/Present/Future and in the video, inmates tell their stories the same way. Hekate/Hecate, the three faced Greek/Roman goddess of crossroads was the inspiration for the portraits. Our proposal concentrates on women as a marginalized population and we have contacts with prisons in Minnesota and Maryland to continue the ongoing work.

  • Beyond Bars

    Beyond Bars is a multi-disciplinary project with present and former prison inmates who are women. It involves photographic portraits, history, original videos and performances.
  • 4. Dion'e

    “Searching for Self” (completed)
The portrait of Dion’e, who is a vocalist and intersex woman, represents a psychological/ physical transition. She was wrongly accused, convicted, placed in an all-male facility and ended up in the hospital after being repeatedly raped. She nearly lost her life, but survived to tell her story.
  • Tiana (final04)

    “A Baby Having Babies”(work-in-progress) 
Falling into drugs after her first child at 13 years-old, Tiana tried taking the easy way out of her problems, but running from the law left her with two prison sentences and the loss of all her children. Wanting to fit in led down a dangerous path where she continues to serve her ninth year for an original five-year term. 

  • Tiana

    Tiani#Hecate
    Tiana “Past, Present, Future” Photographic Print for Exhibition.The photographic portraits will be mounted in 30”x40” prints for a 
horizontal wall displays. A photographic collage of three images of the same face, in left to right
 profile, and the full face centered in between similar to mug shots. 
The inspiration is the bust of Hecate, the ancient Greek goddess of protection and is also known as the goddess of crossroads.
  • fili.jpg

    Fili#Hecate
    Fili “Past, Present, Future” Photographic Print for Exhibition
  • Fili's song

    Fili is a vocalist and one of eleven inmates who chose to share her story. She wanted to sing.
  • Ebony

    Hecate
    Ebony's portrait is representative of the prison population in Hawaii.
  • BEYOND BARS Public Performance

    The first public opening performance of “Beyond Bars: Prison Women Speak” was held on March 6, 2018 to a maximum capacity audience of inmates and persons from outside the prison. The hour-long show celebrated Black History Month
 and included a cast of 14 inmates, who had one month to create and rehearse their own one-hour show. The
celebration show included traditional West African dance, drumming, original and extant poetry, enactments of slavery,
historic moments of the Civil Rights Movement, songs, and multi-media presentations.
  • Witness

    An edited section of a 9minute video on lynching in Maryland. The video was commissioned by the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore and is part of an enclosed installation.

Inside/Outside CA Gallery Installation

Inside/Outside is a collaborative exhibition at Creative Alliance with artist Chris Kojzar. Some of the work are based on images photographed or produced during my artist residency in Abu Dhabi. The video (in the work sample) is part of the installation "Absence/Presence, with mosaic columns representing four elements; earth, air, fire and water. Using beads, glass, clay and video, the project is multidisciplinary to encompass the physical space as a representation of the body. I search for ways to infuse the works with symbols of identity and mythology.
The paintings, sculptures, videos and prints are rooted in cultural histories, myths or personal stories. I sometimes combine found objects, beads, clay, glass and other materials because I’m interested in the idiosyncratic ways in which materials convey meaning.

  • Empty Quarters.jpg

    ELEMENTAL: FIRE, AIR, WATER, EARTH-installation “All elements and powers of the four kingdoms (earth, fire, air, water) and spirit Columns are wood, glass and beads and each one represents an element 96”h x 8” diameter (video: a woman in an abaya sitting in the desert of United Arab Emirates) 24”d x 38” w x96” h
  • Side two Empty Quarters.jpg

    ELEMENTAL: FIRE, AIR, WATER, EARTH-installation “All elements and powers of the four kingdoms (earth, fire, air, water) and the spirit arising from their lethargy. Columns are wood, glass and beads and each one represents an element 96”h x 8” diameter two Videos- title: Empty Quarters I & II (a woman in an abaya sitting in the desert of United Arab Emirates)
  • detailCA.jpg

    Detail: Empty Quarters columns- mosaic beads, shells, glass, tiles, etc.
  • Henry Box Brown.jpg

    Wood, oil paint 36”w x 36”d x 60”h Mostly forgotten in the U.S. Henry "Box" Brown was a 19th-century slave in Virginia who escaped to freedom at the age of 33 by arranging to have himself mailed in a wooden crate in 1849 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Brown bragged about his escape to the chagrin of Frederick Douglass, who wished Brown to keep quiet about the details of his escape so that others might find freedom the same way. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 increased pressure to capture escaped slaves.
  • Love.jpg

    LOVE (reliquary) (wood, beads, resin,clay,metal) 8”w x 12”x 38”h 2015
  • child'splay.jpg

    gun violence
    Child's Play (9 panels 12"x12") in response to gun violence in Baltimore and a child's introduction to guns.

Rotating History project

HAGAR’S DRESS IN HER EXILE 2013
..is a dress assembled from chains, rope and burlap. The inner core is wire, fabric and some plaster. The floor is covered with spiky "sweet gum balls" which were to be walked on barefoot by participants who wanted to get closer to the dress. The choice of materials reference the struggle for freedom. One of the themes identified in the Clermont Project was focused on women both enslaved and free. The story of Hagar resonates with generations of black women who struggle to hold their families together and in the Harriet Tubman story, people walked across fields of sweet gum ball when they escaped through the Underground Railroad. The story of Hagar metaphorically validates the struggle and strength to endure injustice and was particularly of interest to the African American stories in church.
The next few images all have their references as they relate to historical struggles and endurance of African Americans.

  • hagar installation.jpg

    Rotating History
    HAGAR'S DRESS in the slave quarters at Clermont Plantation in Va.
  • Hagar's Dress (side).jpg

    Rotating History Project
    close up of HAGAR'S DRESS
  • Persephone II.jpg

    path to freedom covered in sweet gum balls.
    I've used the myth of Persephone as a metaphor for enslavement. The sweet gum balls are used in my work to reference a difficult passage to freedom.
  • martyr.jpg

    Harriet Tubman
    Part of the Harriet Tubman series.
  • _AnAmericanStory2.jpg

    mixed media-social issue
    Mixed media: fabric, oil on canvas, images African Americans from cotton pickers, found image of a woman born in the 1800's and WWI soldier: 46"x46"
  • anamericanstory.jpg

    Found images of African American woman and man.
    An American story is a solar etching using found images of an African American woman born in the 1800 and a WWI soldier. The images above are of cotton pickers and cotton.
  • homagetovangogh.jpg

    homage
    I've always liked the painting of VanGogh's crows in flight.
  • drinkinggourd.jpg

    follow the stars
    Mixed media(cynotype, sequins, fabric, wood) the journey to freedom with Tubman was based on following the stars at night. This print is part of the scarification series.

The Other Side of Darkness

The Other Side of Darkness-A series of prints and Spirit Sculptures

I search for ways to infuse the works with symbols of identity and mythology.
The paintings, sculptures, videos and prints are rooted in cultural histories,
myths or personal stories. I sometimes combine found objects, beads, clay,
glass and other materials because I’m interested in the idiosyncratic ways in
which materials convey meaning whether it’s through painting, video, mixed
media, printmaking or collage. I feel I’m allowed to use multi faceted ways of
expressing an idea.
.

  • 1.redridinghood.jpg

    Red RidingHood's Dress
    RedRidingHood-Mixed Media (fabric, acrylic paint, on wood panel) 24"x24" A predator hunts down its prey… the sexual predator is thought to "hunt" for his or her sex partners. Perrault’s story of Red Riding Hood is lured by the wolf and she gets eaten.
  • RedRidinghood.jpg

    Red Riding Hood
    Red Riding Hood-solar etching on BFK 16"x 22"
  • Restavek.jpg

    child labor
    Restavek-Mixed Media (crystals, fabric, plastic letters, dirt, acrylic paint) 24"x24' A form of modern-day child slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers.
  • Sex Slave.jpg

    slavery
    Sex Slave-solar embossed etching, 22"x30" from exhibition on "Trafficking"
  • Harriet .jpg

    Harriet
    Harriet Tubman (sitting in the branches of the Sweetgum Tree) -solar etching 16"x22" 2017
  • Minty.jpg

    Harriet
    Minty-solar etching 16"x22" 2017
  • Mourning in Charleston.jpg

    white supremacy
    Mourning in Charleston-Mixed media ( metal, wood, oil, fabric) representative of the nine people executed while in church by Dylan Roof.
  • Oracle.jpg

    Harriet
    Oracle-solar etching, 22"x30" 2017 (Harriet Tubman )
  • sanctuary.jpg

    Sanctuary
    All that you have:Sanctuary Mixed Media(mirrors, beads, wood, paint, etc)
  • Sanctuary.jpg

    Sanctuary
    All that you have:Sanctuary Mixed Media ( mirrors, beads,wood,paint, bullet casings, etc.) 5'h x 12"w x12" d

spirit sculptures

The Spirit sculptures emerged as a concept to harness blessings and explore the intuitive, irrational or unconscious phenomena. Although each one is different, they are linked to nature, emotions or cultural myths. The sculptures were inspired by a Haitian voodoo bottle that are common libation or rum bottles covered in sequins or beads and placed on altars as offerings to the orishas. For me, they have a meditative quality as I build them using reflective and fragile materials.

  • Saint for my City

    Beads, plaster, glass and wood 14" (without base) Spirit Sculpture series Reflection on the crisis of violence in cities. The base is graffiti with the various names we call on the gods.
  • St. for my City (with base)

    Beads, plaster, glass and wood 80" high Spirit Sculpture series: Reflection on the crisis of violence in cities. The base is graffiti with the various names we call on the gods.
  • aquarius.jpg

    spirit sculpture
    Aquarius 2017-Water Spirit 30"h x 5"[email protected] (glass, beads, clay, sequins)
  • Elegba

    Spirit Sculpture series: glass beads, shells, clay, fabric. In African folklore, Elegba is known as the trickster and usually his colors or red and black. He is capable of transforming himself into anything he wants.
  • Protectorate

    clay, beads, nails, feathers, burlap It's an nkisi for soldiers
  • A Lady of Means

    Spirit Sculpture series: glass, beads, ceramic
  • Janus

    Spirit Sculpture series: Janus is a two-faced god looking to the future and the past. He is the god of beginnings and endings, transitions, gates, and time. My interpretation of this future and past is to question whether will we always have wars?
  • Isis

    glass, beads, wood, Isis/Virgin 14"h x 6" w
  • spirit.jpg

    spirit sculpture
    Although I am not literal in the representation, there are elements in the spirit sculpture that relate to Haitian voodoo bottles. I approach the concept using reflective objects that are about protective spirits. On top of this piece are beads that are hands that hold the head of the buddha.
  • alittlebird.jpg

    A Little Bird Told Me (beads, ceramics, plastics, glass) 24"h & 6"circ.

Installations

"Fall from Grace" continues the series of Spirit Sculptures and is constructed to ward off the sins of pedophilia and falsehoods carried out by many priests. It was exhibited nationally at Museum of the Bible, Dixon Gallery in Tennessee, and Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.

The installation, "Tree of Knowledge" took place at Gallery 405. The sweet gum ball pathway was laid out to be walked upon barefoot symbolizing the difficult path to truth and freedom.

The piece Hagar's Dress in Exile is assembled from chains, rope and burlap. The inner core is wire, fabric and some plaster. I wanted a dress that depicted the struggle to be free weighted by expectations of a woman’s role.

  • Fall from Grace 2013-details

    glass, wax, beads,bones, plastic figurine, clay
  • Fall from Grace 2013

    “Fall From Grace” is about hidden sin, repentance, innocence and deliverance. The recent sex scandals in the church is represented by this work. Materials: glass, wax, beads, bones and plastic 38" high.. Featured in the travelling exhibition "Ashe to Amen"(Bible Museum,NY, Dixon Gallery Tenn. and Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Balt.)
  • ashe-dixon1.jpg

    Ashe to Amen installation
    http://artdaily.com/news/63432/Ashe-to-Amen-explores-the-crossroads-of-aesthetics-and-belief-in-African-American-art#.WGmw6BSD67Y Installation of Ashe-to-Amen "artists include the well-known Romare Bearden, Sister Gertrude Morgan and Henry Ossawa Tanner as well as established contemporary artists, such as Rashida Bumbray and Xenobia Bailey.
  • eternal tree .jpg

    mixed media-installation
    Eternal Tree (mixed media installation in Gallery 405) sweet gum balls (12' long) path to the tree had to be walked on barefoot by participants. Several symbols are attached to the tree with biblical references.
  • Eternal Tree-installationdetail

    Spirit house-wood, plastic, beads A spirit house is to attract blessings and ward off evil. Traveling through Thailand gave me the inspiration to create such dwellings.
  • Eternal Tree 2013-detail

    A wise woman at the Eternal Tree. clay, hair, beads, sweetgum balls...
  • Eternal Tree 2013-detail

    wood, beads, nails, clay, fabric, foreground figure is a represents the "fallen angel" or Satan.
  • Eternal Tree 2013-detail

    wood, clay, beads, string, encyl., sweet gum balls, Gallery installation
  • Hagar's Desert Dress in Exile-detail

    The piece is assembled from chains, rope and burlap. The inner core is wire, fabric and some plaster. I wanted a dress that depicted the struggle to be free weighted by expectations of a woman’s role. Ordinary Woman: Exhibition Howard County Arts Center, Ellicott City, Maryland 21044
  • Hagar's Desert Dress in Exile-2013

    The piece is assembled from chains, rope and burlap. The inner core is wire, fabric and some plaster. I wanted a dress that depicted the struggle to be free weighted by expectations of a woman’s role. In the biblical story, Sarah, wife of Abraham, was unable to conceive and gave her Ethiopian (some translations refer to Egyptian) slave, Hagar to Abraham to bear him a child. When Hagar conceived a child, things became tense in the household and Sarah began to mistreat Hagar. Hagar fled but because she was pregnant, she had to return to the jealousy of Sarah.

Inside our Skins

The prints were inspired by travels to South Africa during the summer. While in CapeTown, I took a photograph of three women in chadors and our discussion led us to the changes that have engulfed the Middle East. The uncertainties about religious truths are so prevalent that its a struggle to glean from the media the truth of the narratives. While all of societies are going through transition, knowledge can inform our view and talking to these women made me realize their mode of dressing offered offer protection. I wanted to convey the chador as a second skin that housed spirit.

The video and photo project are recently started projects of women inmates entitled "Prison Monologues". The series will consist of 10 video portraits of women telling a 3 minute story of their experiences while incarcerated. "Kim" video is in progress. The proposed project is being developed as an installation.

  • Three Women from Dubai

    Digital print,pastel& watercolor 22"x30" 2014
  • Contemplation

    Solar Etching 22"x30" 2014
  • A Meditation I

    Digital print collage 22"x30" 2014
  • Intueri-to look inside

    Etching on black Rives paper 22"x30" 2014
  • Esoterikos-innermost

    Solar Etching 22"x30" 2014
  • Golden

    Etching 22"x30"2014
  • Beauty

    Digital collage print& watercolor 22"x30" 2014
  • Dion'e.jpg

    Prison Monologue
    PORTRAIT OF DION’E The Prison Monologues Project is an ambitiously scaled project that supports the Women’s Correctional Center in Kailua, Hawaii which embraces the philosophy that prison should be a place of healing. I was a volunteer for four days of my stay in Hawaii and during that time I met several women who were parolees trying to reintergrate into their community. I took over 200 photographs of two women, listened and recorded their stories as part of of the Prison Monologues video potraits.
  • Kim

    Portrait of Kim (Work in Progress) from The Prison Monologues Project that supports the Women’s Correctional Center in Kailua, Hawaii which embraces the philosophy that prison should be a place of healing. It's a combination of drawing to depict Kim's story.
  • Dion'e: Searching for Self (I)

    The Prison Monologues Project is an ambitiously scaled project that supports the Women’s Correctional Center in Kailua, Hawaii which embraces the philosophy that prison should be a place of healing. I was a volunteer for four days of my stay in Hawaii and during that time I met several women who were parolees trying to reintegrate into their community. I took over 200 photographs of two women, listened and recorded their stories as part of the Prison Monologues video portraits. Many of the women have had traumatic lives and are slowly healing.

Solar

The pieces are in response to the 2017 Solar Eclispe. They are 12"x12" panels forming nine phases.

Prints, Paintings, video

The “Call to Freedom”wall piece measures 66”x90” (2012) inspired by the narrative of Harriet Tubman. Using the raven to represent Harriet Tubman, the bird symbolizes an oracle – intelligent, courageous, and singular in its pursuit.
In the book “Bound for the Promise Land” by Kate Clifford Larson, she describes the reality slaves faced when they escaped. In the background of the etchings are the seedpods of the sweet gum tree, common in the forests of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, that Larson explains,“Are large, round, and covered with spiny, burrs. They litter the forest floor, sometimes inches deep, nature’s bed of nails.” Those seedpods, once the medicine with aromatic therapeutic fragrance to the slaves; once healing folk treatment for wounds, and dysentery; once the hollowed out trunk that served as a baby’s cradle, would then, “Pierce the calloused, unprotected feet of terrified runaway slaves. The sweet gum tree would be among the first barrier on the road to freedom.”
The prints, painting and video are recent works for an exhibition-"The Other Side of Darkness".

  • Call to Freedom 2012

    Etching and digital background of sweet gum balls. 60"x90" The imagery is a personal interpretation of the narrative about Harriet Tubman’s journey using the raven as a symbol.
  • Blackbird

    Etching and digital background images 22"x30"
  • Migration

    Migration 22” x 30” (etching/silkscreen)
  • ghostraven.jpg

    Ghost Raven in sweet gum trees
    Part of the Call to Freedom series using the raven as th symbol for Tubman. Solar Print. Silver and black ink
  • Buried Dreams

    etching/silkscreen 22”x30”
  • Release1.jpg

    Call to Freedom-Release
    Part of series -Call to Freedom 36"x48"(unframed). solar etching and silk screen
  • Beginning and End-2009

    beginning and end series of encaustic prints
    Mixed Media-encaustic etching with sequins 44" x 60"
  • Untitled 2010

    Etching 18"x24"
  • roses.jpg

    " just wanted to paint roses" for exhibition "The Other Side of Darkness" 2016 (oil on canvas) 54"x60"
  • Migration.jpg

    migration print
    "Migration" solar etching 17"h x42"w

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