MoyoOgundipesm

Moyo Ogundipe, Ijesha-Ishu, Nigeria

Zoumana Sane (dates unknown, Senegal) Mami Wata, circa 1987

Zoumana Sane (dates unknown, Senegal) Mami Wata, circa 1987

Coney Island Serpemtina

The Mama Wati, Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diaspora is an inspiring exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/mamiwata/intro.html.
“This exhibition explores the visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata, examining the world of water deities and their seductive powers. It demonstrates how art both reflects and actively contributes to beliefs and religious practices, globalization, and capitalism.Most of all, it reveals the potency of images and ideas to shape the lives of people, communities, and societies.”
The potency of images.
Mama Wati began as a spirit from indigenous African culture. She is Mary, she is Serpentina (a Coney Island Freak Show Performer), she is found in Santeria as well as the Mermaid Parade. http://www.coneyisland.com/mermaid.shtml
“Mami Wata is a complex symbol with so many resonances that she feeds the imagination, generating, rather than limiting, meanings and significances. She is at once a nurturing mother; sexy mama; provider of riches; healer of physical and spiritual ills; and embodiment of dangers and desires, risks and challenges, dreams and aspirations, fears and forebodings.”
Generating rather than limiting meaning.
Sometimes, the significance of art to civilization and humanity becomes clear through a mermaid.