“Motherhood and mothers are celebrated in many Indigenous cultures as life-givers, and the vision of the Afrikan mother breastfeeding while possibly carrying the other twin on her back and balancing her basket is an image to honor and respect. As a mother who nursed her children, and at one time was tandem nursing, I could relate to the practice in a spiritual way, of balancing the needs for life and sustenance and responsibility on my shoulders and feeding my children at my breasts.
“In addition, the multiple needs a mother must regulate inside of herself, while responding to outer demands, needs acknowledgement. This music celebrates the glory of the Afrikan and Afrikan-American mothers, as well as the inner times when the regulation of needs and having reflection occurs while checking on the children during their rest time, and acknowledging their growing independence from us before we are fully engaged in the bustle of activity again.
“Here, Indigenous percussive and melodic instruments are used including the ayoyotes (ankle rattles used in a variety of Indigenous cultural dances, of Afrikan and MesoAmerican people), djembe, and kalimba along with the electric sound of the vibraphone played on a keyboard.”
About the Artwork
Untitled (Mother of Twins)
Artist: Lamidi Olonade Fakeye, Nigerian, 1925-2009
Medium: Mahogany wood
Credit Line: Gift of David Curl
Object Number: 2020.10
Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Visit website
About the Musician
Monica Washington Padula (she/her) is a mother of five and a 2008 and 2010 graduate of Western Michigan University, where she received Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Classical Piano Performance. Since graduating college, she has maintained a piano studio (the Washington Piano Studio) and serves as music director, pianist, and organist for faith institutions, community choirs, and theater organizations in the Kalamazoo area. She is currently serving as keyboardist and organist at Portage United Church of Christ.
Monica is a multi-genre pianist, organist, and saxophonist, with a background in Black gospel music and other forms of African-American popular music.
Monica, who identifies as Afro-Native (Ojibwe), is also an activist and movement organizer mobilizing inside of the Black and Native communities. In her work, music serves as a way to illustrate resistance and resilience. With this focus, Monica specializes in arranging, composing, and collaborating with other artists and musicians to bring representation and creativity to the areas of music that she enjoys and reclaims through the exploration and featuring of Black and Indigenous American music and musicians.