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Bottle trees mark emancipation anniversary

Published 5:59pm Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bottle trees come out of traditions in Central Africa and came to the United States with the African slaves. Bottle trees were thought to provide protection against unfriendly spirits.

The newest exhibition in the courtyard of the Suffolk Art Gallery includes bottle trees decorated by local artists. Bottle trees, in African tradition, were thought to trap unfriendly spirits. Visitors can also add their own decorations to a tree.

Glass bottles were placed, neck end down, over sticks and branches where the malevolent spirits, on the prowl at night, enter the bottles where they become trapped by an “encircling charm.” Come morning, they are burned by the rising sun.

Each bottle tree in the exhibition was adorned by a different artist, and one offers visitors the chance to add their own decoration. Artists participating include Lynne Sward, Kathy Rose, Melody Boone, art teacher at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, and Lavonne Williams, art teacher at John Yeates Middle School, and the staff and volunteers at Suffolk Art League and Art Gallery.

Suffolk Art Gallery is free and open to the public. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (until 8 p.m. on Thursdays) and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information contact the Suffolk Art League at 925-0448 or Suffolk Art Gallery at 514-7284.

 

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