De’Ana Brownfield, Born, Build & Destroy, 2020. Clam shells, cowrie shells, crystals, and stones, dimensions variable.
De’Ana Brownfield, Born, Build & Destroy, 2020. Clam shells, cowrie shells, crystals, and stones, dimensions variable.
De’Ana Brownfield, Dye tests, 2020. Hibiscus, dimensions variable.
De’Ana Brownfield, Dye tests, 2020. Blackbean, dimensions variable.
De’Ana Brownfield, Dye tests, 2020. Blackbea, dimensions variable.
De’Ana Brownfield, Mami Wata (in progress), 2020. Indigo and hibiscus stained canvas with oil, 45” x 25”.
De’Ana Brownfield, Untitled, 2019. Acacia, cowrie shells, acrylic, watercolor, and graphite, dimensions variable.
De’Ana Brownfield, Untitled (in progress), 2020. Indigo stain on canvas, 60” x 40”.
De’Ana Brownfield, Water She Carries Us (in progress), 2020. Indigo dyed cotton, dimensions variable.

De'Ana Brownfield

“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way. . . We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.” —Alice Walker

I reflect on whether my flesh represents who I am or is my identity defined by the past or what society tells me to be. Being a woman from the Afrikan diaspora in America, there is this collective yearning for comfort, understanding, and safety, but it's hard to attain that in this country. The Maafa and assimilation has made the pain and enduring trauma to become so normalized, making it difficult to find peace within my body. My spiritual practice and philosophies have made me turn to the creator and inward to conceptualize my own purpose, rather than prescribing to what society tells me to be. It's been a process of decolonizing my worldview, my art practice, and utilizing the power of storytelling to reclaim bodies being divine vessels. Reading folktales and learning about Afrikan spiritual traditions has been a catalyst for me to create work that is embedded with mythology, ancestral reverence, and divine archetypes. Creating art has been a way to counter America's history that has distorted the collective narratives of resilience and resistance by perpetuating racist notions around our bodies being regarded as subjects to be tamed, excavated, and sites of bereavement. As an artist, it is essential to see other women from the Afrikan diaspora and me as embodiments of God and reincarnation of ancestors because it cultivates a sense of empowerment and prioritizes healing.

Even with engaging the materials, watercolor, gouache, oil, acrylic, and graphite, there is always the intention of allowing them to be freed with the elements. Honing in on my craft is to let my intuition guide my creativity, integrating Afrikan traditional art practices, and being mindful that I am not internalizing Eurocentric ideas around art. The act of creating allows my ancestors to speak through me, there's an acquiesce of reconceptualizing my maternal lineage, personal reality, subjectivity, and owning my sensuality. Through reclaiming traditional art practices, integrating personal, and collective narratives, we can reconceptualize or maternal lineage, our own reality, and explore what it means to be sovereign.