3/21/15 12:36 PM
Itshanapa is the name of a formidable being, the inventor of a brief poetic form dubbed “Dailu,” the painter of neon-tinged landscapes, the spiritualist heir of Wifredo Lam and Amiri Baraka, the sculptor of wandering links in copper and clay, the plotter of haphazard word searches and coloring sheets. Itshanapa is also a name chosen collectively by a group of 22 people and ceremonially given to the artist Dail Chambers, a flesh-and-blood woman who lives in St. Louis and claims among her “sheros” such great and diverse historical figures as Cleopatra, Yoko Ono, Maya Angelou and the Hawaiian matriarchs. Why make art under an assumed personality that claims a lineage as great as the stars? All artists do this to one extent or another, even if they seldom acknowledge it, and even more rarely take on a new nomenclature as a signal. Chambers’s irresistible innovation is to proceed with the boldest and most fabulous transparency.