September • 23 • 2020

Abena Motaboli
A Letter to Mother Earth 
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Abena Motaboli, Stained Movements (2020), mixed medium on stretched canvas, 24” x 36.” Image courtesy of the artist.

Yesterday the waves crashed on lakeshore drive

It was like the world was ending.

The sky was gray

The road was flooded

And yes it is a lake

But I thought about the climate change we always ignored

Yet were so so conscious of.

I think back to the winter when I walked amidst frozen waves

When I saw the most incredible daggers of ice

And frozen forms dancing at the edge of the line between solid sand and solid water.

Thinking of how beautiful something so cold and so big could be.

I remember it was so cold

A cold so violent

The kind of cold that blisters

The kind of cold that burns

The kind of cold that leaves you with a feeling so cold you can’t even think because for a moment it felt as though your skin were being peeled off with a blade.

But it was just a gust of wind

And it was Chicago in the winter.

She always wins.

Gray skies above me

Its crystal clear in my mind.

Is the wind in us?

Was she ever in us?

Or did we take her without asking?

Maybe she was is?

But could the wind really be?

Because she was definitely there—

I felt her.


The trees are all whispering

And I don’t know what to tell them.

That it’s all going to be okay?

Because the waves said so?

Time tells its story

It is ever persistent

And always present.

Perhaps tomorrow when we go on our daily walk we’ll learn how to forgive ourselves and nurture our mother earth back to her full form.

Or maybe

She’s already gone with the wind and it’s too late to bring her back


She was one of the ones that got away.


Abena Motaboli, All These Sentiments ~ Tied Up To Us (2019), coffee, tea, paint and India ink on canvas, 30” x 40.” Image courtesy of the artist.

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Abena Motaboli is a Chicago based educator, facilitator, and visual artist. Influenced by her home country Lesotho and Southern African culture, she invites the audience to find a space to contemplate in, amidst the chaos which surrounds us in the modern world. Her art practice is performative, contemplative, and transformative. She uses ephemeral material including tea and coffee on canvas as well as writing and other visual forms of art to comment on displacement and her past memories.

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