Trigger: Curtis Talwst Santiago
Hello, my name is Curtis Talwst Santiago and I am from Toronto, Canada, of Trinidadian descent.
I’ve always had an interest in beading and the idea developed when I immediately arrived I was met with beaders on the corner and I was surprised to find predominantly they were male, where beading is traditionally a woman’s craft. And I came to discover that the men were also from Zimbabwe and Mozambique and they had gotten into beading as a way to feed their families.
The connection with the medieval helmets is I’ve always been interested in the idea of beading as forms of protection. How, for example, in Zulu culture the men were sent away to work in mines, the women would bead objects for them, like love letters and different things like that, just identify. And even before the mines it was always a marker of where you were in the community, what age or stage of maturity you were at, were you married, how many wives did you have, which wife were you, things of that nature.
And so I also thought about coupling it with the idea of du-rag, the du-rag as a form of protection and armor and athletic wear. For me something as simple as a track suit, when I got my first Michel Jordan track suit, the belief in my mind that somehow I was stronger, faster, better and I’ve always kind of… when I would see young men of color and people of color in communities in track suits something always struck me as armor. I’ve started to go back and look into the history of knights of color and discovering there are way more than we’ve ever been told and often they were whitewashed or painted over as white. And the term black knight would then associate to black armor. So this coupling of these helmets with these du-rags where they’re traditional mail, chainmail du-rags, but I’ve mixed textiles of tracksuits and du-rag material to fool, to go in between time and to keep coming back to the idea of protection and the things we wear to feel safe in environments that we don’t always feel safe in.