The Kenteverse is a multifaceted Art, Design & Music project exploring Kente’s innate power to create. I’m primarily using sounds sampled from the loom during the weaving process to generate new Kente designs and experiences.

When I started this project, I thought I was merely observing and dissecting the anatomy of Kente. I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was peering into a whole universe, The Kenteverse. Sound & Rhythm drove me here, and they’ve been my main points of contact in understanding the numerous locations within this universe. Language, History & Fashion are just some of the areas I’ve gained access to during my time here.

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Experiment: Motif Building

Asante Kente motifs and cloth designs have names with philosophical meanings and color symbolism that serve as a medium of communication to the indigenes. The cloth designs consist of dots, lines, shapes, textures, and colors that are carefully crafted to form geometric shapes and intricate patterns that exhibit balance, rhythm, variety, proportion, and repetition.

The male Kente cloth is made up of 28 strips sewn together. Each strip measures about 4 inches in width. The length is made up of 39 motifs.

The female Kente cloth is made up of 24 strips sewn together; 8 strips for the Kaba, 8 strips for the Slit, and another 8 strips for the cover cloth. Each strip measures about 4 inches in width. The length is made up of 21 motifs.

Many of the motifs’ names are purely descriptive, reflecting everyday objects of the Ashanti natural and historical environment. The most interesting allude to Ashanti proverbs, especially when the proverb has some obvious correlation with the color pattern described.

Developing Motifs In Basel

It’s sometimes difficult to discern why the weaver has selected a particular name for a cloth. Personal circumstances may have influenced his choice at the time of the cloth’s origination or the weave color composition. In no case does the cloth’s name have to do with the occasion on which the cloth is worn or presented.

This for me presented a way into also coming up with motifs that are influenced by my immediate natural environment, its historical experiences, and some personal circumstances while here.

Motif Iterations

I began my exploration by coming up with numerous ideas that could eventually become motifs. I narrowed these down and selected some to start depicting.

Then, I started my expression of the structure of some motif concepts as drafts on square graph paper. Using this allowed me to maintain dots, lines and shapes, to form the geometric shapes and intricate patterns.
December 08 2020