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The Creator: Amir Bey

Amir Bey is a New York City-based multi-discipline artist: he works in varieties of the occult and visual arts, with the occult: tarot, astrology, and coffee readings are his main areas. He has studied palmistry, handwriting analysis, and face-reading, very much like a multi-instrumentalist who has studied other instruments. As a visual artist, he is a multi-media sculptor, curator of over 100 events, performance artist, sumi-e painter, set and costume designer whose silkscreen on fabric prints, along with his masks of leather, Papier Mache, and other media, have striking effects during performances.

The Celebrants In Flight, Support, and Power of Woman as wind chimes and mobiles

He has collaborated with or had his work in the performances of musicians, dancers, and performers, including Idris Ackamoor, Naoe Moriya Amano, Rhodessa Jones, Maria Mitchell, JD Parran, Saco Yasuma, among others. He has exhibited internationally, in Japan, Turkey, France, Martinique, Germany, and Spain.

He has also conducted a series of astrology, coffee, and tarot readings touring Japan on several occasions, with some of those events involving occult-themed performances. A published writer, as an art writer his work has appeared in American Astrology, Art Voices Magazine and has been included in publications of artists' and musicians’ work, and in an anthology on Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary, published by Third World Press.

His self-published work includes The Equinox Celebration Tarot, in English and Japanese, The Equinox Celebration Tarot Reader, a unique concept of a book featuring the images of his tarot whereby a viewer can give themselves a quick reading by opening the book at different pages. Please visit the Store. His website, The New Times Holler! has articles on astrology, interviews, satire, social commentary, and many other expressions.

His inspirations are diverse: artists, astrologers, African Americana, ancient Egypt, Japan, and occultists, and as a teaching artist, children. The Equinox Celebration Tarot draws from ancient and contemporary sources. When he was carving the Celebrants out of African Wonderstone, he felt the Sun, the focal deity of many ancient spiritual concepts. By following the paths of those influences he was able to envision the images for this tarot.

Artist's Statement

Amir Bey as Mars. Costume and Astrologo Axes by Amir Bey

"Much of my work involves the face."

"The face's universality makes it an artistic vehicle that can express every emotion, as it projects and protects identity."

"I create masks of etched copper foil, acrylic on canvas and aluminum screen mesh, life casts, and carvings that are combined in installations with silkscreen on fabric that are also used in performances. Any material, media, color combinations, and sites offer limitless possibilities. Two favorites are mobiles of etched copper foil faces that give an iridescent intrigue, and fabrics that have been silkscreened, then twisted and hung, creating surprising designs and costumes.

Musical instruments made of these mobile masks (called "Music Masks") are hung from ceilings along with the printed fabrics respond to wind currents, causing attached bells to ring. Color, sound, texture and movement are woven into my installations.

Much of this concept comes to life in my collaborations with performers, such as the ensemble work of SYNERGY Sight and Sound, a collaborative project with the alto saxophonist and composer, Saco Yasuma, appearing in Vision Festival XII (2007), Vision Collaborative Nights (2009), and Vision Festival XV (2010), and Vision Festival XX (2015)."

Moyo Roho - Precursor to the Equinox Celebration Tarot

"MOYO ROHO, Kiswahili for 'Heart/Passion Spirit' 28"x12" Nigerian ebony, with brass, African Wonderstone, and deer antler necklace. It was carved April - August of 1976, beginning from Berkeley, CA, where I lived at the time, to New York City and back again. I realized many years later that in the evolution of my work there are elements that did not exist before Moyo Roho, and that the Equinox Celebration Celebrants certainly follow him.

I began the Celebration in early fall, 1976, not long after Moyo Roho was finished. Some of the Celebrants, such as: Power of Woman, Spirit of Joy have his raised hands and arms (Shout!), in a direct stance. I began carving many of the Celebrants by creating a space between the legs or at the bottom of a figure similar to Moyo Roho's; they were all carved from a flat, rectangular stone, with Moyo Roho originating from a more elongated rectangle. Some Celebrants of the tarot have contrasting directions between the arms and legs, and the head and the space between the legs. As with much of my work, the face is central, and the body of Moyo Roha is comprised of many faces! Likewise, the Celebrant faces are meant to communicate energies and ideas to conjure deities, or mythic figures. The two at Moyo Roho's bottom that form the legs are ancestral. The face to the viewer's left combines African and Asian concepts - when Moyo Roho was carved, the San Francisco Bay Area had significant interactions and absorptions between the descendants of those continents, such as social activism, martial arts, and spirituality. The figure on the right, an earlyversion of General Funkeshoe, has humor.

The brass heads in Moyo Roho's hands are sources of power. The necklace, which I would sometimes wear for support, was made of deer antler from Black Bear Ranch in Siskiyou County, CA where I used to live. Sadly, the clasp became weak and I lost it one winter night. The figure inside his head is a female spirit with a heart carved underneath her face, symbolizing love. She was added soon after Moyo Roho's completion. Originally there was only the open space, for the mystery of his being. However, during the time I was finishing Moyo Roho, a five-year-old neighbor would come by to hear my tape of Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got that Swing)." He would put her there each time he visited, and finally there it stayed!

Moyo Roho became my personal icon and when I returned to the East Coast from California in 1977, he introduced me to new people of like minds, while disturbing those of antipathetic persuasions. He was first shown in New York City at Cinque Gallery in 1978, and at Kenkeleba House in 1980."

Photo by Noah Rollins

Astrologo, 2014

Photo by Yusef Jones

"For several decades I thought about making a symbol for astrology and astrologers. Many philosophies and religions have a symbol: The Cross for Christianity, The Wheel for Buddhism, The Star of David for Judaism, The Star and Crescent for Islam, and Shinto has the Torii Gate to name some.

The Astrologo combines many aspects of the Earth/Sky relationship: The circle in the center is the Sun and the Earth; there are two crescents on each side of the Sun/Earth, representing the phases of the Moon: the waxing Moon is the crescent on the righthe waning Moon is the crescent on the left. There are other representations that show the Equator, the 23 degree axial tilt of the Earth, the twelve signs, the North and South Poles, the 24 hours of the day, and the Solstices.

As with many ideograms, there are other representations: An eye; planetary orbits; wings; and magnetic rays surrounding the Earth. In the galvanized metal the many stars in a galaxy can be found in the textures."