Indea Vaher is an artist in real and virtual world. Her work has been documented and recognized by many local, national and international publications such as the Black Enterprise Magazine and many more. In her real life, she has been recognized as a genuine illustration of the history and traditions of African American Southern culture. Her inspirations can be well justified by her roots that are buried in Louisiana, where she spent the major 25 years of her life. Her inquisitiveness to learn more about her genealogy led her to the discovery of the commonalities between Sea Islands and Louisiana which is showcased in her arts of The Gullah/ Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. This Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida as designated by the Congress. However, the influence of the culture extends to Louisiana. Her artwork has been featured in many galleries and museums in real life. The artist has received many honors and awards.
Before getting any further, lets understand more about the art. What is Gullah?
The Gullah people have been able to preserve much of their African cultural heritage because of geography, climate, and patterns of importation of enslaved Africans. The Gullah have preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords from African languages in grammar and sentence structure. Properly referred to as "Sea Island Creole". Gullah storytelling, cuisine, music, folk beliefs, crafts, farming and fishing traditions all exhibit strong influences from West and Central African cultures. Read more at The Saminaka Compass~Gullah Connections.
Indea, a self taught mixed-media artist and instructor, is well known for her brilliant coloring, intricate human and landscape forms. BOSL describes her art as "..start of free labor. This is beautifully captured in Indea's artwork, through bold colors of blues, yellows and reds." ~ As published in the June, 2014 issue.
Indea says, "I eventually chose to live most of my adult life in the south preferring nature to concrete. However growing up in two worlds gave me a special way to appreciate the way we are, when viewing the way we are."
Not only, Indea Vaher is a well established artist in real life, but she has also made an impression in second life. She has been the featured artist at the Paris Couture for the month of March, 2014. The theme was tribute to women of St. Isabella Island. Watch the video on YouTube.
Her other major works in Second Life includes;
- Founding of Sunrise Mansion Art Gallery and Museum Complex 2009 - Present
- St Isabella Island 2010 - 2011
- SRM's Heritage House Cultural Center 2011- 2012
- Administrator Virtual Harlem and Virtual Montmartre 2010, moved to Open sim in 2013
- Virtual Montmartre Gallery 2010- Present
She says, "The sim is an expansion of these ideals expressed in my artwork, and includes; Plantation House: Main Gallery; features my Artwork and guest artists. Presentation area: Speakers and exhibits focusing on various related subjects changes monthly."
The sim includes the following places worth visiting
- Gullah House: Videos, exhibits and Information about the Gullah Culture
- Midwife’s House: A bayou house with information and an installation about Midwives and their contributions historically up to the 1960’s.
- Ibo Landing: The Middle Passage Experience with the Remembrance Slave ship docked, with video, images and information; routes, capture, daily life on the ships, and revolt.
- Praise House: Video, images and information on early worship by enslaved Africans , many traditions still practiced today as many are still standing.
- Remembrance Memorial Garden: The Garden is a place of beauty where people can go and reflect in serenity and peace, created and donated by Le Petit Beau Jardin or the beautiful little garden group (LPBJ), with spiritually healing symbols in its design. We hold entertainment events here, Live music DJ’s etc.
Indea says, "I use my art in second life as a means to open the door to a specific area of African American history. My art is used primarily to educate people about the Gullah Culture, and the people of the Sea Islands which is known by very few outside the region. I am not trying to promote my art here, but use it to bring exposure too this very important and endangered way of life; as developers are rapidly moving out the native indigenous residents of the area and destroying so much of the valuable history there."
Indea Vaher is also the administrator for Virtual Harlem and Virtual Montmartre through collaboration with the sim’s owner Dr. Bryan Mnemonic. She has worked with him for over two years, initially with a project which included plans for a Northern Migration experience from the south to the New York Harlem sim. She helps in holding events, curating exhibits, securing artists for galleries and giving tours on the two historical sims.
In the last interview with Bianca Xavorin, we came to know about Indea Vaher. I took this opportunity to interview such a well established artist. It was an honor for me.
Debby: How did you come to know about Second Life? Do you showcase your art in any other virtual world?
Indea Vaher: I was invited by a friend to attend a virtual classroom in 2008 which I was reluctant to do, I wasn't into computer games or even chat rooms, however she was persuasive. I forgot about the class as soon as I saw the 3D environment and was so intrigued that I continued to login to explore, I never returned to the class, lol.No, I don't showcase in any other virtual platforms.
Debby: Is selling of art in real life different from second life? What was your experience?
Indea Vaher: Yes, selling in second life is so much easier. Anyone can rent a space for few lindens and call it a gallery, upload JPEGs and there you go! There are no insurance issues in Second Life, as in real life it's a primary concern to make sure your original work is well protected. When travelling crating pieces and shipping can be timely and extremely expensive and requires negotiation with the organization or gallery you are working with. Where is second life you rez it on a prim and tp the location.You don't really need to worry about PR much in sl if you belong to art groups you post send out notices. In real life you need to send press releases and hope to be picked up by as many blogs, newspapers and publications as possible pray you get a cover, and good reviews after the shows have opened. However, you can experience some of that in SL, which is a microcosm of real life in all areas.
Debby: The virtual grid has many new artists evolving every few days. Would you like to try an artwork in Second Life using the SL environment?
Indea Vaher: I consider everything we do in sl is artwork. We forget because it's immersive that we are viewing this 3D environment on a 2D flat screen. The trees, water, sky, all of the wonderful builds, even the avatars are wonderful works of art. Each resident is an artist in the way he or she decides on the skin they choose combined with the shapes and various choices of clothing, we are all creating within a graphic context all the time in second life.I created Sunrise Mansion Art Gallery and Museums as an artwork in SL, if you visit I have extended the conceptual theme of my artwork, which is African American Southern History. The Gallery, and builds are in direct correspondence to that.
Debby: As an artist would you recommend anyone in real life to use virtual world as another platform to showcase their art?
Indea Vaher: Yes, I would, so many people are blocked and or inhibited artist and virtual experimentation has awakened them to that artist within. So many real life artists are already in sl using and laying everyday.
Debby: How much impact does second life have when you create real life art?
Indea Vaher: I think it has had a subliminal effect. It has also made me want to learn digital art.
Debby: Among the work you have done, which is the most favorite in your eyes and why? Would you like to share some with us?
Indea Vaher: It's difficult to say which is my most favorite; I think they all are in different context, however, I'd love to share.
Debby: Are you inspired by any other artists? Any specific works of theirs that you would like to tell us about?
Indea Vaher: Yes, growing up I was inspired by Paul Gauguin, and also by fashion illustrations.
Debby: Any comments that you remember given by any of your fans?
Indea Vaher: Yes, I am most inspired by those who said my work moved them to tears. I appreciate n I'm honored to know a work has moved one to that emotion.
Debby: What would you like to tell your fans through this podium?
Indea Vaher: That I'm honored and I appreciate those who have shown support, and that it's this that inspires me to continue to create. Thank you.
Debby: What would you like to tell the young artists, both real life and virtual life?
Indea Vaher: Stay focused, cherish your individuality, honor God/ Universe (whatever your spiritual belief) for allowing you to be a creative vehicle and don't give up.
Indea Vaher is a very humble and a considerate person, even though, she is a well established artist in real world and the virtual world. With over two decades of experience, she is a self made artist and an instructor at various Universities, she is still very down to earth. Her work is a thought provoking eye opener for many of us. Our outlook changes towards the way we view the world when we see her artwork. The artistic quality to splash the lifestyle of Gullah on the canvas using bold deep colored lines is so well portrayed that we can easily connect with each one on a personal level.
Contact Indea Vaher at Indea2L@gmail.com for more information.
*Note: The lines in italics are the words of Indea Vaher.