Since tomorrow I will be moderating the Astro-Caribbean panel, Midnight Robber Chronicles, which was inspired by Nalo Hopkinson’s speculative novel Midnight Robber, I thought I’d share an a British artist whose work centers on exploring the significance of Caribbean carnival.
According to Trinidadian/Irish- British artistZak Ove, Caribbean carnival, especially those in Trinidad, started as a mockery of European colonialists, but then became a declaration of “we can be anything” and “not just what we’ve been duped” into believing we are by these colonialists. It became an investigation through transfigurement and costume into all kinds of mythologies and into a sense of Africanism that had been subdued and suppressed through slavery.
Last Friday, I went to Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning’s First Friday event where they showcase creative artists who participate in their one month residency program. Below are the three visual artists (Jason Lalor, Steven Sivells and Joyce Sanchez Espinoza) and works they showcased:
“In physics, a blackbody is an idealized body which absorbs the electromagnetic radiation it encounters and emits it as a spectrum of light; the body itself is revealed only through this spectrum. Similarly, the black and brown communities from which rap poetics emerged remain invisible to the pop culture it fuels. Nonetheless, the poetics – blackbody radiation – allow for the creation of new experiential worlds for its practitioners and audience.”
Jamaican-American visual artist Renee Cox recently released her latest collection of work, Sacred Geometry: where she turns bodies of various people into mandala-inspired geometric fractal patterns. Given several of the stories I have heard lately in the news, her work is again relevant, reinforcing the divine power and value of ourselves, our cultures, our spirituality, and our bodies that is so often dismissed in the world we live. Here is part of her artist statement about her collection:
“…My new body of work, ‘Sacred Geometry,’ consists of digitally manipulated black & white portraits that display self-similar patterns. They are executed with precision, creating sculptural kaleidoscopes of the human body while exploring the power of symbols as elements of collective imagination. The inspiration for this new work comes from fractals, a mathematical concept centuries old and used by many ancient African cultures.
The work has also been the result of my embrace of the digital world. Bridging the gap between the old and new technology has brought on new challenges and endless possibilities. As the digital world has transformed the medium, I have embraced it and integrated it into my process.
‘Sacred Geometry’ has brought a new viewing experience. The simplicity and connectivity of the fractal concept seems to be engaging the viewer in a profoundly different way, bringing a certain peace, reflection and joy.”
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Despite having a cold last week and recovering from it, which is why I have not posted in a week, I managed to go to three exhibitions — Sol’Sax’s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA, Maksaens Denis’ Mutation X062 and Kara Walker’s A Subtlety. Below are slideshows from each event:
Sol’Sax‘s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA at Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn
This exhibition reminded me a lot of Margaret Vendryes’ African Diva Project where traditional African masks are placed on the faces of legendary African-American figures symbolizing the sacredness of African-American and African Diasporic cultures.
Hey everyone! I am still fundraising for Atlantic Impact’s Abroad for a Cause Challenge in which the organization is inviting two bloggers to travel with them to Barbados this summer. Atlantic Impact is an organization that helps at risk youth by giving them opportunities to travel abroad. Please donate and/or share; I have until June 9th to raise all the money.
Today’s artist that I am featuring is self-taught Barbadian artist Jill McIntyre. Her joyfully colorful and vibrant artwork is filled with fantastical sea and nature-related imagery, combining this imagery “with mythology – mermaids (la sirene), dragons, sea monsters, a phoenix or two – and she is intrigued by the use of symbolism in art.” She says, ““I never paint to record life exactly as it is, I paint snapshots of my imagination. I like being able to rearrange reality and create my own little alternative world.” As for why the sea inspires her, McIntyre expresses, “for me the sea has always been associated with beauty, romance, mystery, fantasy, fun and adventure. In my mind, water has always symbolised life… an element with cleansing, renewing, refreshing, and healing power. I’m an optimist. I choose to imagine the depths of the ocean as filled with mythical creatures of beauty rather than mythical monsters of destruction.”
McIntyre purpose of her painting style is to remind viewers that “we should appreciate this gift of life; that we should dream and imagine, and believe anything is possible; that we should magnify what is good and positive. My paintings are windows to my soul; I paint to celebrate life. I want my work to express my joy in being alive, and to share my love of the Caribbean mystique. Essentially, I want my art to inspire viewers, my message is simple: ‘Smile, laugh, dream, live!'”
Below is some of her artwork which tends to have a futuristic, fantastical and mystical bent to them as a way to confront race, gender, ethnicity, family, and identity. You can view more of her art here.
I was walking around Jamaica Avenue in Queens, New York the other night and came across an outdoor art installation featuring work from Margaret Rose Vendryes‘ African Diva Projectand work from Dominique Sindayiganza’s Roots Project. Vendreyes had previously showed her work in an exhibition at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in February where she debuted her latest piece from the Side B of the project, “Punu Janelle.” According to Tucker Contemporary Art, “The exhibition is a series of famed album covers by iconic Black female divas redesigned and re-imagined to question the role of race and gender in contemporary Black communities.” Vendryes adds, ” I give these dynamic female performers agency and protection replacing their psychological mask with a literal one. Songs… messages that once rose out of vinyl channels, like black magic, are inscribed in the space that surrounds them.” The outdoor instillation will be on display until September. I quickly took a few pictures of Vendryes’ work and posted them below (click on the images to see them larger):