Artist Statement // Ola Manana
“Infinite love is all supply to her intelligent spiritual children." Jennifer Wynne Reeves
I am an artist because I cannot stop. It is a personality trait, a thorn in my side, a way of elevation, a waste of money, a mode of personal therapy, an intellectual pursuit and an ongoing obsession.
For the last twenty years I have been working in the figurative realm trying to somehow capture unique and often times troubling dreams that were the result of an over active imagination and PTSD. Initially, I was inspired by the spiritual implementation of the Yoruba tradition of Africa, not in methodology but in philosophy of ASHE, or the idea that art making is inherently a spiritual pursuit. For approximately one decade I transcribed hundreds of dreams into notebooks and ghost images in the mode of the surrealists hoping to create images that play between the multi fractal dimensions of the universe. I was encouraged because I had an endless supply as I was arbitrarily tormented or delighted during any given moment of sleep.
To this end I have been working exclusively with images that appear in my dreams. I include myself in many of my paintings because these are my adventures. Because the environments, symbols and juxtapositions are inimitable in waking life, I have never been at a loss for subject matter or suffered from artistic ennui. Over the course of studying the nature of dreams I have made certain discoveries that I accept as my truth. It could be a philosophy or a modus operandi. For instance, close analysis revealed that 4% of my dreams were prophetic, or that the dreams showed world events, people, or situations that had not occurred at the time but did occur at a later date. Perhaps the percentage is higher given that all time has not transpired yet. Usually dreams which were prescient to world events such as Hurricane Sandy would be gripping in their terror or extremely beautiful so I would be left with a large echo of a very vivid or specific nature which would allow me to relate it almost immediately back to the dream when the event actually occurred. There was also a dated record scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere.
Other dreams were related to anxiety of past or future events. Others revealed bizarre inventions or the spiritual state of others. Very few of my dreams seemed to be related to events in my day or whatever sludge so called dream experts like to describe.
Essentially, sleep is work or travel for me. I don’t care that this dimension is unproveable. My belief is that of what there is that can be proved in the material world is a pinprick of what is not visible. Categorical dismissal of the spiritual realm is reflective of arrogance I cannot align myself with. I feel that my work as an artist barely brushes the surface of possibilities that lie on the other side of the portal, but I give it a go because it’s my time and my insignificance on the continuum allows me to pursue what I want without penalty and in some lucky moments, it gives me great pleasure.
Ola Manana lives in New York City with her husband and son.