Every once and awhile I come across someone whose art truly captures the beauty and spirit of the Orisha. This is definitely the case with the phenomenal work of Patricia Grannum. Grace and majesty manifest from her brushstrokes, and I was excited to ask her more about these masterpieces and share the resposes here with you.
Lilith Dorsey: I am so moved and impressed by your Orisha art, what was the inspiration behind your Oshun and Yemaya pieces?
Patricia Grannum: Thank you..I started doing these pieces because I knew so little about the Orisha spiritual practice, even though I live in Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean nation where the religion has a relatively strong presence. It’s one of the few remnants of African spiritual practice that remains in Trinidad and as a black woman I felt disconnected from it because I grew up in the Christian Church. I realized that I knew more about Greek Gods and Goddesses that the religion of my ancestors. So, it has been a journey of discovery and I’m still learning as I continue to paint the Orishas.
Lilith Dorsey: Do you have a background in the religion?
Patricia Grannum: No, I’m still at the point where I’m learning
Lilith Dorsey: How do you feel the religions are practiced differently where you are from than in the U.S.? If you think they are practiced differently that is.
Patricia Grannum: I really can’t speak for the US, since I haven’t spent a lot of time there but I can speak about T&T because I live here. Trinidad Orisha practice often incorporates elements of the Spiritual Baptist faith and sometimes practitioners are called Shango Baptists. It’s still a religion that’s practised in the shadows i.e. it’s still pretty underground. There is a thriving community but I wouldn’t say there’s widespread mainstream acceptance of it outside of the faith. African spiritual and cultural practices were banned for a long time by colonial governments, so I think there’s a stigma that persists because of that. Also people still heavily associate it with “black magic,” and doing spiritual harm to others. So lots of people still need to educate themselves about the true nature of the religion. I hope my paintings can play a role in that.Lilith Dorsey: What has been the public response to these pieces?
Patricia Grannum: It’s been great! The reactions have been pretty positive so far from people who practice the religion and from those who don’t and are curious to learn more.
Lilith Dorsey: What are you working on next?
Patricia Grannum: I’m still working on completing the series of Orisha deities. I’m currently working on painting of Shango and another of Ogun. Later this year, I’ll be doing illustrations for a series of folklore stories set in the Caribbean and West Africa. I’m excited about the future!
Patricia Grannum is a self-taught artist and jewelry designer living, working and evolving in Trinidad and Tobago. To see more of her art you can check out her Tumblr page at http://numythology.tumblr.com/ or her Deviant Art page at http://numythology.deviantart.com/ Prints can be ordered from Numythology/Society6