March 2008 – Through the Mind of Onayemi

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Celebrating the Orishas through art.

Join us for the Artist Reception and African Drumming Performance ReScheduled for Saturday March 8th 7-9 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Call the store at 612-872-1292 for information/directions.

Onayemi Ogunkoye will be our featured artist through the end of April, 2008. His art focuses on the Orishas, the attributes of the Source of All Things as personified as sentient beings in the Ifa Tradition of Yorubaland, West Africa, and the New World traditions of Santeria and Haitian Vodou and other decended branches of the African Tradition.

The title of the show reflects the way in which these pieces of art came to be . . . Onayemi feels these images are a reflection of an inner listening rather than a contrivance.

Boldly colored and symbolic, these multi-media paintings (see below) and oversized masks (not pictured), have a visual voice which speaks to the viewer.

Orisa Ogun is the Lord of Earthly Fire, for without control over fire he could not exercise authority over the use of iron, steel and all metals.

“Ogun is the traditional warrior and seen as a powerful deity of metal work, similar to Ares and Hephaestus in Greek mythology. As such Ogun is mighty, powerful, triumphal, yet also exhibits the rage and destructiveness of the warrior whose strength and violence can turn against the community he serves. Perhaps linked to this theme is the new face he has taken on in Haiti which is not quite related to his African roots, that of a powerful political leader.

He gives strength through prophecy and magic. It is Ogun who is said to have planted the idea, led and given power to the slaves for the Haitian Revolution of 1804. He is called now to help people obtain a government more responsive to their needs.” ~Wikipedia article on Ogun

In many respects, Ogun is considered chief among the Orisha, and is paid due regard right along with Eshu-Elegba.

“Whichever divinity regards Ogun as of no consequence,
will eat his yams with his hands (i.e. unprepared) for times without number.”

~ Yoruban Saying

Orisa Yemoja is the Mother of All Life and she has encoded the record of her procreative process in the blood of her children.

Her colors are blue and white (crystal), as seen in her crown in this representation. Orisa Yemoja is the matriarchal head of the cosmic universe. She represents nurture as the amniotic fluid in the womb of the pregnant woman, as well as, the breasts. Also very stern and temperamental, Yemoja expresses the protective energies of the feminine force.

Her full name, Orisa Yemoja/Olokun, Olokun represents the depths down to the Ocean floor and the treasures and secrets that are buried there. Being of the earth-essence, she is proficient in the secret arts (sorcery) and will use them to protect her devotees.

Because the African-American religions were transmitted as part of a long oral tradition, there are many regional variations on the goddess’s name.

  • Africa: Yemoja, Ymoja, Iemanja Nana Borocum, Iemanja Bomi, Iemanja Boci
  • Brazil: Yemanjá, Iemanjá, Janaina
  • Cuba: Yemaya, Yemayah, Iemanya
  • Haiti: La Sirène, LaSiren (in Vodou)
  • USA (New Orleans Voodoo): Yemalla, Yemana

Orisa Elegba, Messenger of the Orishas, the Guardian at the Treshold.

Elegba is everywhere, but dwells at the crossroad, opens and close all doors, and show multiple possibilities for our Path. At the same moment he can be the one who lure us away from it, thereby putting us to a test. He can appear as a young child or an old wise man.

Elegba is the interface between the Orishas and humans: without him no communication is possible to the spirit world. His colors are red and black, and is pictured here at the crossroad as both red and black in reference to a traditional story.

“Eshu is a trickstergod, and plays frequently tempting choices for the purpose of causing maturation. He is a difficult teacher, but a good one[3]. As an example[4], Eshu was walking down the road one day, wearing a hat that was red on one side and black on the other. Sometime after he departed, the villagers who had seen him began arguing about whether the stranger’s hat was black or red. The villagers on one side of the road had only been capable of seeing the black side, and the villagers on the other side had only been capable of seeing the red half. They nearly fought over the argument, until Eshu came back and cleared the mystery, teaching the villagers about how one’s perspective can alter a person’s perception of reality, and that one can be easily fooled.”~from Wikipedia article on Eshu

Orisa Oshun embodies all aspects of the sexual nature of the female.

As Iwa Wundia (Virginity); she is the fruit ripening on the vine – approaching its readiness to satisfy the hunger and the senses of the one who is so fortunate as to taste her sweetness.

As Iwa Obinrin (Womanhood); she embodies all of the Feminine and Masculine attributes of a mature sentient being, and providing the only canvas upon which the male can outline his accomplishments as a man; she is the ‘mirror’ that reflects the male to himself. If the male fails to respect, nurture, elevate, support, and protect the woman and the fruit of her womb, he has succeeded only in diminishing himself.

Oshun is also Pansaga Obirin (the Temptress, Prostitute) – who through her pleasures, can tempt man to risk the throne that he has, or inspire him to seize the throne of another.


  1. Please visit my site in which you’ ll find my personal view of the Orishas and their world.
    Congratulations for your work.

    Maria Giulia Alemanno
    Italian Artist

  2. Clarita Wheatley says

    I am a child of the Orishas/Lwa. Please let me know when you are doing something in Philadelphia.
    The above Pics are beautiful

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