Akua Lezli Hope

Kiln-cast in granular glass figure, kiln-formed shield, sandblasted float glass, 14.5"H x 9.25"W x 5"D

The woman evolved from two recurrent icons: The Ghanaian Akan/Twi/Ashante Akuabas that I've long admired and the Dogon figure that has also inhabited my consciousness and served as the logo for my first press and magazine, New Heat.

She was first a man and became a woman when my mother died. She appears in my paperwork as a woman bearing the winged heart or as Praiseman.

Kiln working starts with glass as a solid. I wanted its solidity and its piecedness to be apparent. This gestures toward a source, a referent, a cultural retention evinced in African American quilts. That making a whole from parts, art from scraps, a big from many littles and encoding the bed cloth with the instructive or protective.

For those named and nameless makers, the quilt was a shield and a signifier. Art entered artifact.

Glass has magical, light-manipulating qualities; the material infuses and informs the object. That they bear and transmit light, that light interacts with their body and their being is an endless source of metaphor, of contemplation.

Prayer is a shield, soul-energy and sound energy together change matter, change states of being, transform, protect, defend, heal, Shield.


The tragedy of Amadou Diallo, unarmed,

pierced 19 times by 41 bullets fired,

as he stood in the doorway

of his Bronx, NY home, remains

for all his stilled generations

what they and he won't feel, won't attain

That my 4 grandparents journeyed as did he

with hope to America's greatest city

80 years ago from an agrarian place

to make their dream of a better life, real

Amadou, i pray for you

Amadou, we pray for peace

for justice for all, for most, at least

that your family heal,

that this ignorant, stupid violence cease.



The Shield is the making and the telling and the creation of a thing which works. These are shields. They are artifacts that serve the purpose to protect, defend, spare, heal, and cover.

Shields are what I, as a nonparent but loving aunt and godmother have to offer. I didn't create these incredible gifted manifestations of light who illuminate my life, but I can help by assisting in shielding them. Ensure that through the motive force of prayer, desire, and action that they thrive, by being there to make it happen.

Shield is also homage. The dream like steel in my soul, the hidden automatic, the incredibly deft programming that two children of the Africa to West Indies Diaspora did to their first born. I remain grateful that there is not much I wanted or needed to undo.

Such an expansive foundation that they, my parents, grandparents and godmothers gave me; the strength, clarity, and joy of which shielded me for over 40 years from the incessant and unremitting attacks on the very nature of my being. I can best honor the gift and insight by passing it on, by also shielding the Homo Novis.

My goal is to use techniques to fulfill vision and gain the skill that extends vision. This making is for me another way of telling some of the many many stories that this first-born, female, African Caribbean American, New Yorker, Ivy League, émigré creator has been taught.

SHIELD|Making Art, Working Glass| Art Resumé|Akua's Homepage|SHIELD|Glass Beadmakers' Ring Connection|Creators Links|Poems at this Site|

SoulShip, sandcast glass, copper, Akua Lezli Hope, 2000