The first thing I wanted those who encountered my bottle to notice was the mix of colors. Originally, this bottle was a drab translucent green, and you can still see hints of that behind the layers of white, purple, and blue; my interpretation of the aesthetic of Vodou art includes building something new out of what the artist has, but not forgetting the individual components from which the piece was made. My aim was to pay tribute to Ayida-Weddo, the female Vodou lwa of fertility, rainbows, wind, water, fire, and snakes; more specifically, my aim was to pay tribute to the bodies of water, whether they be rivers, lakes, puddles, creeks, streams, bays, estuaries, brooks, lagoons, seas, or oceans, that contain her. That is why it is the color blue, one of Ayida-Weddo’s two ceremonial colors (the other being white), that predominately covers my bottle. The white shimmering beads at the top are a representation of the glimmers of sun reflecting off of the surface of the water as it ripples. A rock stopper attached to the top, which I like to imagine was picked up out of a shallow part of some river somewhere, keeps what is inside safe (literally, there are a bunch of very small, very loose objects just waiting to break their glue bonds with the glass of the bottle and fall out). Inside, there are a number of red, purple, and clear beads, sequins, and marbles. Ayida-Weddo’s lore describes her as the “Rainbow Serpent”, a creature who’s duty includes holding up the heavens; the Rainbow Serpent has a twin personality, each personality with their own gender. The blue part of this rainbow is female, and the red part is male. I sought to illustrate this point by painting the outside blue and making the inside predominately red; I chose to separate the sides in this way because I specifically chose to focus on the water aspect of Ayida-Weddo, not Ayida-Weddo as a whole. That being said, it is difficult, and perhaps slightly disrespectful (at least in my interpretations) to acknowledge one side without acknowledging the other. The inside of my bottle serves a dual purpose; the first purpose is to deliver the due acknowledgement to Ayida-Weddo’s male half, while the second purpose is to serve as a metaphor for the life that can be found within the many bodies of water in which Ayida-Weddo inhabits. One who looks down into my bottle through the neck will notice strings of red and purple beads (which came out of several sacrificed Mardi Gras necklaces) hanging across the diameter of the bottle, an homage to the male part of the Rainbow Serpent. Coming back to the very large, very green wine bottle that is the foundation of this piece, it should be noted that, while Ayida-Weddo is referred to as the Rainbow Serpent, she is often portrayed as a thin, green snake. By sandwiching this layer between the decorations on the outside of the bottle and the contents inside the bottle, I aimed to acknowledge this fact.
I will be very frank; I am not very good with my hands. I have a horrible tremor at the absolute least convenient of times, and even when that is not a problem, my fine motor skills still are very well developed (this resulted in most of my fingers being covered in reliable Loctite super glue, which while not being the first time this has occurred in my life, still left me with an unpleasant feeling on the tips of my digits for the better part of the week). To compensate for this when I began to put together my bottle, I took a long, hard think at how I would approach creating a finished product that could satisfy both my interpretation of the Haitian Vodou aesthetic as well as my desire to create a piece that included slight elements of contemporary art (or at least, what I interpret are elements of contemporary art). While whether or not I met these goals should probably be better left for someone with a better eye for physical pieces of art than myself, I can say, wholeheartedly, that I feel satisfied by what I created, and can only hope that others will agree.