Untitled (X symbols)

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    Photo: William Arnett, 1998

Several Sewell’s signature pieces feature a mysterious symbol—an X with dots in some or all of its quadrants. The ideogram is found throughout the yard—for example, on an old inoperative car and on an abandoned refrigerator in a grove of trees—and is reflected in arrangements of chairs, tables, and bric-a-brac elsewhere. About this piece, and about her art in general, she says, “Women go through stages. You know about that. Children being born out of any woman. Children grow, you know. Women teach and bless.”

She sees her art as something that gives birth, evolves, matures, protects, commands respect: consummate personal female metaphors.

“You go to a doctor. You know how doctor got signs up all about his place to recommend his place? I got my signs, too."

She elaborates on the various messages contained within the assemblage. To explain the forked-stick segment, she begins to sing gospel style,

Yield not to temptation.
Jesus will carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help,
if a victory will help,

Jesus will carry you through.

She then explains, “That V is for victory,” adding that “if you’re a Christian person, you remember the symbols of God, you see, and use them. I can sing them. I can build them.”
She wants to explain her secret symbol, the one misunderstood by so many, so often.

“That cross is nothing to make a fuss about. You can see the same thing in a lot of places. It’s not nothing for nobody to be alarmed about. It’s not dangerous. I put it on refrigerators and those things—symbols of God. You’d be proud to be as what it is. I put it out on the car, you know, so if they  ever sell the car they know whose care they sell to a person. It’s kind of like a Roman number that you had in your schooling days. That is a sign of history. That sign is a great symbol of things. It’s no mean thing to it, nothing devilish in it. It is not. I is a symbol to recognize by. It is a symbol of recognized ways.
You watch Oprah Winfrey when she be running her show; watch her picture sometimes, when she come on at four o’clock. She got that same X on her place. It mean ‘important work.’ ‘You could be somebody.’ It mean ‘reaching for the stars.’ If you ain’t got no common knowledge, and don’t carry yourself in the right way, and learn nothing, you can never be a star; reach the star’s. Never, if you got filthy ways and stupid ways.

Them little dots in it make it a star. Let you know you got good running. Knowledge can make you be a star. You can use your knowledge and background.

Look at it another way: It's like Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. You can have all things. You put your trust in him. Listen to me sing and you'll get the word what I'm talking about.