Artist Statement

My work probes areas of vulnerability and intimacy to explore issues of home, ancestry, family, connectivity and belonging. As someone who has lived longer outside of my birthplace of Jamaica, than I have lived on the island, I am acutely aware of what it means to be simultaneously an insider and an outsider. This ability to see the world from multiple psychological and territorial spaces has led to the development of a particular lens that allows me to view a given environment from a distance. Because I am also a fiction writer and poet as well as a visual artist, the text and narrative are significant parts of my artistic practice.

My work focuses on making visible the invisible, in making tangible the ephemeral, in speaking aloud the unspoken, and in voicing voicelessness. In so doing, I engage with such themes as pleasure, desire, sexuality, memory and exile (and their concomitant absence, loss, erasure and silence).

My practice is interdisciplinary and increasingly trans-disciplinary.

I have been engaged in the “Female Sexual Desires” project for several years now. In this work, I collected anonymously over 150 sexual desires from women. I then used the desires collected as the basis of several works in a multi-disciplinary format resulting in: Over 60 embroidery drawings; 20 bed-sized quilted and appliqued works; and 16 woven pieces. In addition, I complied responses received from each of the women into the video “Touch Me Secretly” and utilized several paragraphs in an audio compilation entitled “Six Voices” which is read by six different women. Finally, I engaged the very sexist, racist and at times misogynistic things said to me or about the work I was doing into two videos, entitled: “Ways of Silencing” and “The Desire to be Desired.” My hope in doing this work is to make invisible female sexual desires more visible and to give a voice to female sexual desires.

Much of my photographic works are about memory or the act of memorialization. In my “Folly” series I recount a story I heard as a child, of two tales of a “haunted” house. In time, I researched the history of the house and through a process of photomontage combined photographs I took with archival footage to try and tell the two competing stories of the house. The ghostly images of the past occupants are integrated into the walls and on the grounds of the present-day ruins. The overall effect is spectral and haunting. I also used this process of photomontage in an ongoing series of ethereal and transcendent “Childhood Memories” photographs in which there is a palpable sense of loss as characters seek to inhabit a time and a place long gone.

My most recent “Babylon” and “Zion” paintings are about the Rastafarian ideas of Babylon being a place of captivity and oppression while Zion symbolizes a utopian place of unity and peace. In the Babylon series, I utilize the lyrics from songs and poems to create text-based drip paintings. But here as well, the issue of voicing voicelesness takes center stage in a series of paintings in which the words, though visible are still illegible because they are covered over by paint. These words are meant to dramatize the particular difficulties of women in speaking and being heard. The Zion series of paintings on the other hand are comprised largely of monochrome paintings to delineate a symbolic paradise. Glitter is present in these works not only as a representation of the paradise that Rastafarians seek in the Biblical homeland of Zion but also as a commentary on the ‘bling and glitter’ culture that has enveloped much of Jamaican society.

 

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