H x W: 51 × 63 7/8 × 1 1/4 in. (129.5 × 162.2 × 3.2 cm)
In 1970 artist, curator, and scholar Floyd Coleman traveled to West Africa, principally Nigeria and Ghana, where he was greatly influenced by textile and sculptural design. While there, the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin introduced Coleman to their traditions and spiritual beliefs. Coleman drew on his artistic training and newfound surroundings to form a cross-cultural style of painting.
Shango’s Helper is an abstract depiction of the Yoruba goddess Oya, identifiable by the color red and the saber she carries. Oya is the goddess of the Niger River, dynamism, tornadoes, and other natural powers. She is the third and favorite wife of Shango, god of thunder, fire, and lightning. Shango’s presence is visible in the double-ax icon above Oya’s head.
This is an acrylic painting that depicts an abstract interpretation of a female figure. Done against a black background the shape is located primarily in the bottom left quadrant and partial top left quadrant of the painting. The bottom left features a wide swath of orange, topped with several textured shapes in shades of yellow, light brown, and grey. Shapes are clearly delineated by borders done in darker shades or alternate colors. Some shapes are patterned with narrow stripes and brush strokes. Above the figure is a grey rectangle outlined in green. Within the rectangle is a darker grey shape roughly resembling the head of an axe. There is a green horizontal line in the bottom right quadrant of the painting.