[September 30th, 2015]
1973: The year my mother and her family moved from Senegal, Africa to the United States. She was 14 years old at the time, and spoke no English; she carried this statuette, and many other objects from their life in Africa with her.
The stories around this beautiful statuette probably date back even further than my mother's time in Africa; and it's only been with me personally for the past 12 years or so. Needless to say, I'm not ready to leave her now either.
Originally, I believe she had a twin. Two sister book-end holders made from the same piece of mahogany. Through all the moving across the world it seems that one of them got lost in the shuffle— but who knows? Maybe she's just hiding in Teta's basement... :)
I remember growing up with her in our little house inside the Gainey Ranch neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona. There were a handful of objects from my mother's life in Senegal that adorned that home, and this statuette was one of them. I remember being slightly scared of her because of the missing chunk from the corner of her closed lips. Today, it's my favorite part about her...
By the time I grew into a teenager we had moved into a few different spaces, each time with this Mahogany Woman accompanying us. We finally landed in the last Arizona house I would live in—and suddenly with my own decorating autonomy I snatched her and claimed her as my own. I set her up in my room for all to see; and four years later as I was packing my things to move to New York City, she was one of the only decorative pieces I brought with me.
There's something about this figure that's comforting. Perhaps it's the sensation that she's wise; that she's seen a lot more than I have yet to see; has lived with more people and has known them more intimately than I will probably ever know.
So as we hop from place to place, look forward to her profile popping in and out of photos. She's been with my mother and I, seeing the world for over 40 years. Why stop now? :)