As creative beings, there is always the need to interpret the world as we see, hear, feel, and live it. So, how do we articulate our love for existing in all its simplicity and its ambiguity?
We are the interpreters of our experiences, be it through language, culture, employment, education, entertainment, family, friends and art. In all aspects of our existence, we are expressively artistic. Added to that, we have become quite adept in our ability to consistently revise and evolve our consciousness in a hostile, anti-African environment. In this regard, we become surveyors of reality and our artistry is what transforms an antagonistic atmosphere into a more habitable space.
It is true that on life’s journey, there has to be, an uncontaminated refuge, replete with an appreciation for enduring, overcoming … being. It has to be a space in which the individual and/or the collective can breathe, converse, and create … freely.
My particularly consecrated creative space is currently consumed with Slc’s Sacred Gemz—one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry designs, specializing in wire and natural gemstones. I, Sandra Laraine Coleman, am the proud owner of my own jewelry business that has an online presence and has morphed itself into a brand.
In this space, I experiment with colors, textures, sizes and shapes from all over the world, interpreting my Black Woman truth into wearable art. The use of wire (brass, silver, copper), gemstones, bone, ceramic, wood, coral, crystals, shells (especially cowries) and glass beads is a truly gratifying experience. [Along with] channeling our ancestors in [making the jewelry, by] being Black and Woman takes my creativity to an entire other level.
The language that I speak with wire and beads often amazes me and I am self-taught. No, I have never taken a jewelry class and it all began with a single-mother’s determination to feed her child without sacrificing being an accessible parent.
I went from working with tiny seed beads for simple anklets and bracelets, to expanding my craft to an entire collection of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, bangles, arm cuffs, finger and toe rings. As well, there are designs that are used specifically for healing like copper leg and foot bracelets. Since copper is believed to have healing properties, it is a regular feature in my work.
Conjuring divine art
I get an idea for a piece in my head or see a picture and I ask myself, “I wonder if I can do that?” Most of the time, it is my hands’ interpretation of what I think or see. After that, the idea will not leave until I manifest its reality. The funny thing is, even my mistakes have become masterpieces and I am the only one who knows that information. The more I create, the better my work becomes and it is uniquely different than anything I have ever seen.
I subscribe to the theory that GOD and our ancestors are the reason Slc’s Sacred Gemz exists. In that, my creativity is an extension of who we are. I am merely the vessel being used to articulate our collective, cultural experience; to allow our DNA to speak and our ancestors to share their stories in my work.
In my work, it is no accident that I am drawn to cowrie shells, copal and Batik bone beads from Kenya; Baule and Krobo beads from Ghana; anyolite from Tanzania; and African Sunset Dumortierite. I am absolutely obsessed with beads from the Motherland and jewelry making, and the fact that I can be compensated for my creativity is a bonus. I am deeply grateful and humbled that I have been designated to articulate the, we, with jewelry.
Now, I no longer question why I am a consummate artist. Insofar, I accept that this is who I am and I only pray that what I do continues to honor our ancestors; uplifts our community; compliments being Black and Woman; and I trust that my creations will serve as symbols of cultural continuity for generations to come. Ashe/Àṣẹ.
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