Marcia Jones discusses “The Displaced Oshun Theory”


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When Marcia Jones, a former artist-in-residence at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, showcased her painting “The Displaced Oshun Theory” last year during the museum’s Live and in Stereo(type) exhibit, it stirred a controversial reception.


Some viewers couldn’t comprehend how the feminine images related to one another, and rather than examine them as a whole, they jumped to the conclusions that the painting was somehow defacing women and/or Michelle Obama.

Her face, pictured on million dollar bills, was joined with the image of an exotic dancer clad in little clothing, saintly veils, and an indigenous African mask. “I as an artist saw them as a tribe of sisters with equal, yet separate, discerning attributes. When joined they depicted woman in her entirety; the common joining denominator being the womb,” says Jones.

The painting wasn’t meant to be provocative, nor was the work meant to have any direct relationship to Michelle Obama, who represents a divine mother in the painting. “I wanted to see what a black woman’s face would look like on a million dollar bill,” says Jones. “I wondered if that would shift our perception about money and our worth in regards to capitalism.”

“The Displaced Oshun Theory” draws its name from Oshun, an African goddess of love, and the idea that consumerized images of women's sensuality have been used out of context for capital gain in Western culture.

“My goal was to articulate value and ownership over our bodies,” says Jones. “The sacred whore, although often demonized by women, is the epitome of the women who places a value on her seduction. Other cultures understand this concept. Unfortunately, patriarchy has abused the concept.”

Jones will discuss and answer questions about the artwork tonight during a special shindig at Twenty-Two Gallery. Overall, she hopes that the painting has a positive effect on women to honor and love every aspect of themselves.

“This individualism, classism, and separatism weakens us as a matriarchal force, which is why the government feels entitled to make and enforce choices about our bodies for us,” says Jones. “I want us [women] to own our bodies without over compensating ego or shame.”

Free admission. Sept. 7, 6 p.m. Twenty-Two, 1500 Central Ave. 704-334-0122.