We had the good fortune of connecting with Cindy Bonaparte and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cindy, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I felt called into it. For a long time I never saw it as a career option. My creative talents were only nurtured as a nice hobby rather than a career to support my life with. I started to look at art and creativity as inseparable from my healing practice the more I leaned into womb healing medicine. There are more people who relate to me through my work as a Womb Healing practitioner and Reiki healer, rather than as a visual artist with organizing tendencies. Creativity and artistic expression have always been a part of my life since I could remember. I’m at a place in my life that I feel the best thing I can do for myself and my community, is to pursue a creative life. I can be an artist working with energy in a healing practice, teaching, or making objects. The why comes down to a dedication to finding purpose in healing work and creativity as decolonial work.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

What I am most excited about with my work at this time is in how I approach healing and art together in seeking the wisdom of ancestors, elders, and participation with community. These are uncharted waters for me. The healing modalities I was trained in focuses on the individual client. Right now, I’m reading The Healing Wisdom of Africa Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community by Malidoma Patrice Somé. This book outlines from an indigenous perspective how challenging and difficult it can be to attempt to apply indigenous wisdom and healing practices to people who live in the modern Western world. Because of how we have been trained and educated to think, we often reject or do not recognize indigenous teachings. Many folks prefer to order things up a-la-carte “on our terms,” which is not how this type of healing works. So, my next project, Black Sanctity & Trust, focuses on exploring ritual in community, and decolonizing the relationship Black folks have with the womb as a physical and energetic site for healing.

I’m also an object maker, with a need to make things with my hands. I sculpt, assemble, sew, touch, and feel my way through the work. A big challenge for this project is to provide a space and structure that guides participants to come to decisions on how the art pieces might be tools to hold and exchange healing energy as currency. How can this art project serve as a catalyst for decolonial change in the lives of those who participate? What should remain held within the privacy of a group, and what serves our needs when shared in public? I have so many questions, and little interest in claiming to have the answers. Instead, I’d like to explore the possibilities with others over time.

Some days I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing at all. And that, I have learned, is part of a practice of surrender. Surrender to the art and what it would like to be shaped into. Surrender to collaboration with others, the Other Worlds of the ancestors, and the elements of nature. This makes me hyperaware of being accountable, and letting go of trying to control how to arrive at an outcome, while still working towards it in a disciplined manner. Due to the pandemic and social distancing I don’t know if I can have a gathering in the Fall for my capstone project, following the prescribed safety measures, or if it will have to exist virtually at that time. I miss the in-person interaction and the healing that is created with physical closeness. Being an object maker, energy worker, and an earth sign I feel drives me to prioritize being in a physical space, and proximal to objects and people. There is an exchange that cannot be translated the same way through digital media. Instead, it takes on another life, a digital life without smell and touch, and touches in a different way. It calls for a different way to appreciate it. I still have to be flexible, patient, and not be attached to the how I think it should be. This project will include sculptures, digital collages, and messages from the womb and that’s all I can say about it for now.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to North East L.A. to Sonia’s Taco Truck, Matador Beach in the day and leave some offering for the water, head to Leimert Park on Sunday, and have Ackee Bamboo for Jamaican Patties, or maybe drive to Little Ethiopia to Merkato. Then spend some hours at my favorite Korean spa (imagining a life post lock down), and Mdk Noodles after, hike paths at the Griffith Observatory, there they can see the Hollywood sign without bothering the residents. Probably to also make a trip to a local Botanicas to get some personal spiritual care supplies, and have some Boba only at the Tea Station in Alhambra. Of course I would cook for them and probably give them some herb blends I have in my house. Clearly if you want me as your guide, I’m all about the local food and the Korean spa. Of course I’d ask what they actually wanted to do because I wont choose the touristy things if you leave it up to me!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m surrounded by spirit guides, Ancestors, plant guides, elders, mentors and teachers on this path. I’d love to shout out to the two cohorts in the Social & Environmental Arts Practice MFA program I am currently enrolled in at Prescott College. Having a supportive community of talented artists who are heart centered, teachers, fairies, thinkers, and healers has been the biggest infusion into my spirit, direction, and finding joy in my work.

Instagram: @cindybonaparte

Image Credits
Vanessa Acosta Sonya Michelle Sanford

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