A former student at the Christianburg Wismar Secondary School in Linden, Sellone Stanton has spent the last three years pursuing her passion for art and embracing the challenges that came along with the said pursuit.
Stanton joined the E.R. Burrowes School of Art following her family’s advice to nurture the potential they saw in the work she was producing at the secondary level. After submitting her application and an accompanying portfolio of works, she was accepted into the school’s two-year certificate programme and thus began her creative journey.
Recalling her time at the art school, Stanton explained that her decision to pursue leather and ceramics as her two areas of specialization, was more of a natural inclination as opposed to something she actively contemplated.
“When you enroll at the art school you have to do all the courses in the first year before choosing two. I fell in love with leather, even though I knew much more about painting and drawing. Leather became my favourite course so I decided to work with that. With ceramics, on the other hand, I just loved clay,” Sellone said in an interview.
While she admits that staying focused was one of the challenges she encountered during her time at the art school, she eventually learned to cultivate a habit of self-discipline in order to keep up with the pace of her new creative environment.
“Starting there was a little difficult because I was experiencing new things, things that I didn’t know before. But I learned a lot from those things. We’ve had a lot of good experiences with past and present artists at the school and meeting other people. We’ve visited many different places, went on tours etc.,” she said
Her treatment of materials, particularly with her leather works, point to an interest in finding new and inventive ways of blurring the line that separates fine art from craft. Despite the fact that leather comes from a long history of being excluded from traditional considerations of fine art, she has found interesting ways of merging the two and using the results of that merger to engage with various aspects of our local ethnicities.
“Most of the pieces I did were based on the different races of Guyana. The mirror, for example, has different petals and each petal has the name of each race. My major task was done with peacock feathers representing the beauty of my people. The leather coming down like hair represents the different textures including straight, curly and afro hair,” she said.
Although Stanton reflected quite fondly on the three years she spent at the school, she did admit to wishing the programme was longer, since the additional time allowed her to develop her technical skills and solidify the concepts that inform her art production.
“If they could change the two-year certificate course to a three-year course it would be better because I benefitted a lot from the three years I spent there. They could also extend the Diploma programme by an additional year. I think that would help a lot,” Sellone said.
Her advice for new entrants hoping to discover their own creative identity at the art school: “When you go to the art school, don’t play with the work. The time to play will be when you go on the tours. That will be your time to play. You will have fun because Burrowes is fun. There might be times when you find yourself struggling but don’t give up. Don’t leave the school. Stay focused and graduate. Never give up on what you want to do,” she said.
Speaking about her plans for the future, Sellone expressed a sincere desire to spend more time with her family since her hectic schedule while still a student at the art school, prevented her from doing so.
“I’m planning to go back home to spend some time with my family because I didn’t get to do much of that. I also want to go back to Burrowes to do the Diploma programme and eventually become an art teacher.”
Stanton acknowledges that she has a lot to be grateful for, particularly the strong network of support that often braced her through the trying times.
“I had my teachers, friends and parents encouraging me. I want to thank my parents, especially, for supporting me all the way but most of all I’d like to thank God.”
Stanton and 10 others recently completed the Certificate programme, while three students completed the school’s Diploma programme. The end of their studies was marked by an exhibition of their works at the Umana Yana benab, back in August of this year.
This article was first published in the Pepperpot magazine of the Sunday Chronicle newspaper on October 8, 2017. Click on the link to be redirected to their website: