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Masta My Language

Masta My Language is an ongoing multi-part project that includes original poetry, mixed-media works on paper, mixed-media sculpture/installation, performance art, and experimental musical scores. The project began with an original poem, A Letter Home Hoping to Reach You Soon. The poem reflects my desire to further create connections and deeper understanding and knowledge of my my Haitian ancestry. 

A Letter Home Hoping to Reach You Soon

I don’t remember knowing you.

I am only familiar with your name

your complex jargon,

lexicon, plus ardent-

strides of your offspring.

 

I am familiar but with a few flavors on your table-

cloth that carries the scent of starchy roots drawn from the earth,

rice of my complexion,

sauces of fish and meat-

coffee grounds and sweet-

breads that holds a warm place

In hearts across your land-

where rivers holding secrets from East

whisper tales while you slumber deep.

 

I am new to this feeling.

 

Father.

Land.

Hand.

 

My time left here to greet you is sinking.

Sand.

and I know you await me.

Open gates bearing symbols,

Signals,

Cymbals may clash and awake me.

The reminder that I am here.

 

Still.

Father.

Land.

 

I see your hand in all that I do. All that I make.

Your son is afraid.

 

All that chalk, and mud, blood and raw materials, brass arrows with dots and crossed ethereal.

 

You.

 

Your son is afraid.

This you already know.

 

I’m from that other line. Support staff.

Crafting and making. Cooking and Baking.

Sharpening and shaping all that you’d be proud to use in putting up the resistance.

 

To include an inside reference is outside me. No parallels can be drawn from the inside here.

Open always, I am, to the possibility that sometimes someone there thinks of me.

Knowing that I’m growing and that time does pass-

Through glass and empties the other side.

My side.

For yours is forever full-

Holding seed and soil.

 

Wait for rain.

The text of the poem exists as an object created by hand-cutting lines of the text vertically from strips of rubber that vary in length. 

The rubber cut-aways (negative space) from the lines of text were used to create a series of mixed-media works on paper. These works are about the acquisition of language, how it is shared, translated and what is gained and lost in the process of transfer. I am also interested in how people are connected through and divided by language which is constantly evolving. These works also relate to my desire to learn Haitian Creole (Kreyòl ayisyen), the first language of my father. 

Masta My Language: Chapter 1
Header
Rubber, gesso, graphite on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.1
Rubber, gesso, graphite, oil pastel and Zambia soil on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.2
Rubber, gesso, graphite, oil pastel and Zambia soil on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.4
Rubber, gesso, graphite, oil pastel and Zambia soil on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.5
Rubber, graphite on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.6
Rubber, gesso, graphite, oil pastel and screenprint collage on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.7
Rubber, gesso, graphite on paper
30"x24"
2015
no.8
Rubber, graphite, screenprint on paper
30"x24"
2015
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Masta My Language: Chapter 2
Masta My Language Ch.2 pg5
Masta My Language Ch.2 pg4
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A musical notation system is being developed in collaboration with William Reese for the language derived from the works on paper.  Through this transferrable system, musical scores are being composed for each of the works. Currently, the scores are written for saxophones; however, they can be modified for other instruments of the same family and for an orchestra of instruments of different families. The performance of this work reflects a pedagogical exercise where teacher and student both work through compositions together to gain deeper connections and knowledge of the text.

Masta My Language: Chapter 1 notes for musical notation system and score for no.4 & no.5
Masta My Language no.4 - Nyugen Smith & William Reese
00:00 / 00:00
Masta My Language no.5 - Nyugen Smith & William Reese
00:00 / 00:00
Masta My Language: Musical score for Chapter 1: no.4 

A study for site-specific projection of the works on paper with or without performance of the scores