About this piece:
Levitation is a book about St Martin de Porres, a Peruvian saint who ascetically starved himself to a trance state. Son of a Spanish noble and a Panamanian woman of African descent, he is the first dark skinned saint. He holds a broom to sweep up after the animals he cares for, a dog, cat and mouse at his side. He is the patron saint of custodial workers, but his true calling is as an animal rights activist. The glass millefiori beads have been called African trade beads, though the beads traded in Africa were more typically plain seed beads used in ceremonial garments and accouterments. The skull looks like ivory but is not. There are a few carved bone skulls strung with the glass beads. The covers are wood, the binding coptic and the end papers Florentine. The window is mica.
At first I was insulted that the only black saint was linked to a subservient task, but when I read his history of animal rights activism, I wanted to honor his memory with a reliquary book. The claim of levitation is intriguing, but since I do not think history is absolute, not disturbing.
This work sprung from the flea market discovery of a St Martin holy card and figurine.
wood, paper, glass beads, plastic figure, linen thread, holy card
Susan Edwards is a painter, book crafter and art teacher who spends part of each year in the Caribbean and part in the mountains of East Tennessee. Her work is informed by trips she has made throughout the United States, Canada, Africa, Indonesia and Europe. Hiking in France and Spain has allowed her to observe nature and man-made wonders at a reflective pace. Her reliquary books are informed by her interest in art history and hagiography.