Fort Gansevoort is proud to announce that Sankofa by Dawn Williams Boyd has been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sankofa is an example of Boyd’s cloth paintings which frequently feature female subjects. The title is derived from the Akan Twi and Fante languages of Ghana and roughly translates to “retrieve.” The term Sankofa also refers to an Adinkra symbol—a Ghanaian graphic representation of a concept or aphorism—which depicts a bird with its head turned backward and its feet facing forward. The symbol signifies that the past inevitably informs the future.
Floating in water composed of narrow pieces of found fabric, the nude figure in Boyd’s work turns her head in a gesture mimicking the Sankofa symbol. Small pictures of the artist’s female friends and family members surround the central figure taking the form of an abstracted matrilineal family tree. In her raised hand, she grasps additional rectangular images of other cloth paintings previously made by the artist. Utilizing a dye-transfer method to apply the smaller images to the painting’s surface, Boyd mimetically signifies her personal history as well as her creative production.