MOU - A Memorandum of Understanding between two artists

MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is a collaborative residency initiative conceptualized and developed by Trinidadian artist Shanice Smith and Guyanese artist Dominique Hunter after the two met on the fourth iteration of the Caribbean Linked residency in Aruba last year.

The residency, which will take place in Trinidad & Tobago, was designed to strengthen new and existing connections between creative practitioners working in the two countries. In addition to creating a platform for Smith and Hunter to expand their individual portfolios, the long-term vision is to continue explorations between both artists and to foster an ongoing engagement with local artists and artist spaces such as Alice Yard.

Shanice Smith (b.1991, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago) received two certificates from The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Social work and Psychology (UWI) before going on to pursue her Bachelor’s in Fine Art, also at UWI.

Her work investigates how messages are conveyed in the public domain, and is explored through video and performance-based pieces. Smith is concerned with female exploitation and objectification and has a keen interest in children’s issues.

Her most recent exhibition was staged at the Caribbean Linked IV in Aruba, August of 2016. The work thus far has taken the form of video installations and mixed media work.

"My work explores gender-based issues – the violence faced by women and children in our societies, e.g. the constant objectification of women and the role of the media. Using every day items, I investigate these issues and how they eventually become internalized and are often seen as a norm. It can be stated that I am interested in social interventions and not so much the making of things just for display. From these observations/experiments, there is a need to explore the 'why' factor of the use of women and children for capital gain - for exchange. The work seeks to create awareness by engaging the audience.

The inspiration behind this is drawn from my own journey of self-discovery, a confrontation of self and also my mother's battles with her past experiences and the rippling effects that have occurred. My mother’s stories not only serve as inspiration and motivation for the current work, but also bring about the transformation of silence into a language of action."

Dominique Hunter (b. 1987, Georgetown, Guyana) received her Diploma from the E.R. Burrowes School of Art in 2007 and was awarded Best Graduating Student. Later that year she was invited to join the Guyana Women Artists’ Association (GWAA) and has since shown work at several exhibitions hosted by the association.

Her first solo exhibition titled Introspection was held at the National Gallery of Art, Castellani House in 2010. In 2014 she was awarded second place with a silver medal at the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition.

Hunter recently completed her BFA at the Barbados Community College and was the recipient of the Leslie's Legacy Foundation Award for Most Outstanding Work at Portfolio.

In May of 2015 she completed an internship at the Fresh Milk Barbados art platform where she worked under the guidance of the establishment’s director, Annalee Davis.

She was nominated for a month-long Vermont Studio Center (VSC) residency in 2016 and was later awarded a fellowship sponsored by the Reed Foundation. Her stint at VSC began in January 2017 and concluded the following month.

Hunter is currently a freelance artist and Sunday Arts columnist for the Guyana Chronicle newspaper.

"My work attempts to critique the (non)-representation of Black female bodies in art history as well as stereotypical portrayals of those bodies in contemporary print media. By culling information from various archives and feminist texts (often with alternating and overlapping perspectives from both sides of the oppressor/oppressed binary) I have been exploring different ways of engaging with ideas of colonial and contemporary representations of black and white female bodies, and the cyclical perpetuation of very specific body ideals over the centuries.

The physical embodiment of these concerns underscore issues of sexuality, commodification, exploitation, and (non) representation in art historical texts and imageries. My point of entry into these themes has been to employ and exaggerate popular advertising techniques used in magazines in an attempt to critique the manner in which the female body continues to be idealized and “sold” (to men for consumption and women for validation). Ideas of beauty regarding the female body are therefore examined from the perspective of the media, who now assume a position once held by the White male colonizer."

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