How Calafia Got Her Groove Back: The Rewilding

 How Calafia Got Her Gold Back: The Rewilding


How Calafia Got Her Gold Back: The Rewilding explores the connections between colonial Spanish fiction, the extraction of California’s natural resources and the limitless creativity and power of Black women in America. 

In 1510 spanish writer Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo imagined a gold saturated island ruled by Black women warriors who kept man-killing griffins as pets in his novel “Las Sergas de Esplandián.”  He named this mythical island Calafia, which is believed to be the namesake of California and a metaphor for both the abundance of the land and its conquest. 

This land now known as California has been the site of countless terrors of people and ecologies. From the gold rush to silicon valley, the spirit of this land continues to be drained, depleted and destroyed.  

The objects in this piece act as prophetic visions that dream of a time when Calafia’s gold (spirit) is restored, when Black women’s power and creativity is in full bloom and when technology exposes itself for the mud, mineral and glass that it fundamentally is. The soundscape features sounds of California foliage, the pacific ocean and an incantation for the listener standing on this sacred Ohlone land. 

As a media artist, I am interested in blurring the boundaries between technology and the natural world. I see pattern and algorithm in a seed. I feel sunshine and mud in an iphone. 

This installation is also used as a set for an afro-surrealist urban-legend film called a(VOID) Fire. The film follows a Black woman who is haunted by her comfort zone. She must compost her internalized colonial beliefs if she is going to survive.  The film is currently in production with an anticipated release date of spring 2025.

Sculptures: Ceramic, California Poppy Seeds, 24K Gold Leaf

Projection/Sound: 1:54 mins

Tapestry “Bloom Scrolling”: Digital Print, Ink on Cotton Poplin (8.5 x 50”)

*Special thanks to friends at  KALA Institute and Black Space Residency for supporting this work.