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The Central State University Percent for Arts Commission
“Syncopations”

Your BELIEFS become your thoughts,

Your THOUGHTS become your words,

Your WORDS become your actions,

Your ACTIONS become your habits,

Your HABITS become your values,

Your VALUES become your DESTINY. -Mahatma Gandhi

 

This prayer for a purposeful life is the focal point of the artwork for Central State University’s Student Center.


Ghandi’s words evoke the rhythm of song and dance and poetry. Each line begins with “your,” focusing us inward before we can take the next step. The rhythmic sequence then builds like a drumbeat to an uplifting crescendo: that we are the creators of our own destiny.


Ghandi’s words, etched in gold and silver, are framed with visual symbols and references to pay homage to the rich artistic and cultural traditions of the African heritage. The clay and glass palette evoke the mineral-rich earth colors of the land and the bold, bright colors of a diverse African artistic tradition. Sculpted gold Adinkra symbols accent the artwork with inspirational messages of strength, humility, courage, and cooperation.


The lower right side of the artwork is grounded at the base of the wall. The neat horizontal and vertical strips evoke patterns found in the “stripweaving” textiles of the Ewe people of Ghana, considered the most skilled weavers in Africa. The symbolic patterns always woven with either 16 or 24 strips of cloth are sewn together to create textiles for royalty and life cycle ceremonies.


The orderly patterns burst forth in all directions as the artwork’s 24 strips expand across the wall to frame Ghandi’s words. The colors and patterns overlap and intersect in unexpected ways, evoking the syncopations of jazz, dance, poetry, and rap music. Perched on one of the strips is the representation of a ceremonial mask in the form of a golden antelope -- a relic of African art so widely recognized, that it was once adopted as the logo for the Smithsonian’s African Art Collection.


Mahatma Ghandi’s years in South Africa sensitized him to the suffering of others and awakened his sense of social justice. More than a century later, his legacy continues to change the world, inspiring people everywhere who have suffered oppression or enslavement. The artwork that now enshrines Gandhi's words thus celebrates both a proud and noble African heritage and an enduring faith in our power to shape our own destiny.