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What does Nierika mean? Nierika is from the language of the Huichol Indians of Sierra Madras, Mexico. The Nierika is a gateway to the spiritual realm, a realm of clarity, vision and understanding. Traditionally the Nierika is created using a home made circular object from stone, clay, wood or yarn and decorated with symbols from personal experience such as animals, weapons, or people. Using the Nierika as a focal point during meditation the consciousness passes through a gateway to a new realm of spirit, helping the seeker to discover clarity in one’s life path, a solution to a specific problem or guidance in a goal or endeavor. The gateway, however, is created by the meditative focus, not simply the object.

“When a poet reaches out for the name of a thing—“bamboo,” say—the very utterance of such a word is laden with a slew of images and emotions. Along with the cultural associations embedded in a material in a specific locale, its various physical and sensory properties, whether flexibility or color, will be bound to any new object shaped through its use.” (*AK) Dwelling on such nuances as a form of subtle communication with its materials, as well as between the work and the audience, Shabaka’s art works present a metaphoric map of both Mesoamerican and African precolonial cultures and lives beyond them.