A Face Behind the Glass Window

A Face Behind the Glass Window

by Thomas J. Feliciano

Published in Visions Newspaper | March 2016


Growing up in Darkar, Senegal, artist Ibou Ndoye learned his artistic talent at home. His mother, a dressmaker, guided his vision of color with expert training. She asked young Ibou to fetch her a red fabric from the market. It had to be just the right hue, which was difficult in a sea of red cloth. The test worked out in his benefit, as glancing over Ibou’s work, the first thing that jumps out at you is color. Color behind glass.

Ibou’s glass painting is moe than a Senegalese tradition. His culture views glass, or windows, as the most important reflection of our society. First of all, it’s transparent, so everything is visible behind it. Also, glass is fragile, which shows the delicate nature of even something we use for protection, as a teller sits behind a window or a windshield protects our bodies from outward harm.

People can interact with glass in different ways. Ibou presented an example of hiding from a debt collector, and how one would glance out the window in a different manner than if they were expecting a guest. For all these reasons, Ibou uses glass and he calls it “the medium that doesn’t lie.” Another way of looking at it, Ibou said, is the “broken glass culture” where we live. However, “a room without a window is a prison.”

Ibou works on more than glass. He is constantly experimenting with a style he describes as a fusion between modernism and traditionalism and a mixture of various cultures. Some of his other wok appears on surface metal or canvas. Most convey the simple message of masks. That human beings wear a different mask for each occasion: whether it be at school, work, with family, or with friends. This is perhaps best seen in his massive painting on paper titled, “A Face is a Face.”

Also on display are some of Ibou’s other glass paintings, including two self-portraits, a painting of two children playing outside, and other works describing the importance of sunrise and sunset.

Ibou explained that Senegalese people see the sunrise as a time when evil spirits join the world, and they leave this plane at sunset. As such, people go to work with the sun and come home when it sets to stay occupied during this time.

In Ibou’s fishermen community back in Senegal, the men who leave for work each morning paint a message on their boat. These are something positive, that can act as inspiration to the long day of work ahead.

The artist explained that the men in his village, singing and dancing as they left in the morning, were in the same good humor at the day’s end, even if they didn’t catch any fish.

Ibou sees the messages as a type of art, one that helps these fishermen focus on their task. He said, “Art is knowledge, and if you think knowledge is expensive, then try ignorance.” He also sees art as a way of teaching and bridging the gaps between cultures.

Beyond his own work, Ibou spends time volunteering with children, elderly, and individuals with special needs. He appreciates the opportunity to help those in various stations in life achieve some type of artistic expression.

Ibou said that all people are broken in some way. Using art for the greater good, the painter hopes to heal some of those wounds.

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