Week three of the residency and I feel like the earth is still shifting rapidly beneath my feet. In many ways I still haven’t quite managed to “catch my bearings”.
There is a general sense of uncertainty and even confusion about my own practice since I’ve been here. The past few days have really called into question my methodologies and although this is by no means a bad thing, I have felt at times as though nothing has since been resolved. The frustration that inevitably followed clouded everything I attempted to do, resulting in moments where I swung precariously from states of anxiety to indifference.
I’m a fixer/problem solver by nature (though I try to stay as far away as possible from anything math-related) and so resolutions are important to me. I’m the person who makes way too many to-do lists and finds extreme happiness in crossing out those items one by one. I’m also the type to spend an entire day cleaning and organizing my studio space until it’s perfect, only to turn everything upside down the next day and not be bothered by the “mess.” Needless to say, I’ve been out of my element from day one. However, I’m slowly learning that this experience of being in a residency is very much about embracing the uncomfortable uncertainties that rolled my way on a daily basis.
In the past, my production often involved a lot of thinking (and sometimes overthinking) but with encouragement from this year’s Cuban master artist, Humberto Diaz, I’ve been gradually venturing past my comfort zone. During my talks with him I recognized how much I was limiting my work by the decisions I made with regard to materials, scale, orientation and even the mounting of finished works.
While it wasn’t always easy to relinquish control, it did become easier once I committed to being open about new possibilities. It was then also that I realized how tightly wound I was about the particulars of my process. If anything, this residency definitely highlighted some of the things that contributed to a lot of the mental blocks I was experiencing in the months leading up to me being here.
By this time next week, this residency would be over and I would be home, trying to readjust to the only pace I’ve known for most of my life. Maybe I would also be in a better position to write more clearly about my experience in Caribbean Linked IV. So much has happened and after three weeks it’s still incredibly difficult to contemplate the meanings of these events while trapped in the whirlwind. But for now, the race to the opening of our group exhibition continues. As I type this most of the work is either half-finished or nowhere near finished. While it’s very easy to hit the panic button at this point, I know that things have a strange way of working out. And so as much as I’m sunburnt and sleep deprived, I plan to enjoy the time I have left with this amazing group of strangers turned friends before we venture off into our separate pockets of the world.
Persons interested in following what has been happening in this residency can follow Caribbean Linked on Facebook or visit their website www.caribbeanlinked.com. Videos of the presentations made by individual artists as well as this year’s writer in residence, master artist and two guest curators can be viewed on Caribbean.tv (Facebook).
Caribbean Linked is a regional art residency and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc with support from Mondriaan Fonds and Stichting DOEN. In the fourth installment since it’s launch in 2012, ten artists from the region were invited to participate including Frances Gallardo (Puerto Rico), Travis Geertruida (Curaçao), Charlie Godet Thomas (Bermuda), Nowé H. Harris-Smith (The Bahamas), Dominique Hunter (Guyana), Tessa Mars (Haiti), Oneika Russell (Jamaica), Shanice Smith (Trinidad), Simon Tatum (The Cayman Islands) and Laura de Vogel (Aruba). Also invited were master artist Humberto Diaz (Cuba), writer and co-founder of Moko Magazine David Knight Jr. (US Virgin Islands), specially invited curators María Elena Ortiz (associate curator at the Perez Art Museum Miami, PAMM) and Pablo Léon de la Barra (curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for the Latin American phase of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Caribbean Linked IV runs from August 1 to August 24 and will be spearheaded by Robin de Vogel (Aruba) and Katherine Kennedy (Barbados).
This article was first published in the Pepperpot magazine of the Sunday Chronicle newspaper on August 21, 2016. Click on the link to be redirected to their website: