Carifesta XIII – Visual Arts from the Cayman Islands
Carifesta XIII will be celebrating the visual arts through a series of showcases, lectures and workshops, and a large regional art exhibition featuring artists from all participating countries. Supported by CARICOM, the exhibition will explore the legacy of the ‘Trans-Atlantic Journey of the Slave Trade’ and the heritage of that journey, which is still with us today.
The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) is proud to support five Caymanian artists – Simon Tatum, Brandon Saunders, Kaitlyn Elphinstone, Nasaria Suckoo Chollette, and Shane “Dready” Aquart – whose work has been accepted by the Carifesta exhibition committee. Their artwork will represent the Cayman Islands alongside many other Caribbean artists.
In addition to the exhibition, NGCI Director and Chief Curator, Natalie Urquhart will join the larger Carifesta Contingent travelling to Barbados to share the wider story of Cayman Islands art via presentations at the University of the West Indies Carifesta XIII Symposium and the Artists Talks series.
Installation with charcoal on newsprint
36 x 60
Says the artist, “The local- global negotiation of visual culture and historical dialogue are issues that concern me. With my recent work, I have collected archive photographs that have originated from within the local region of the Cayman Islands. I use the photographs and restructure them into photograph abstractions that are printed as charcoal screen prints on newsprint paper. I am interested in using these photographs, which have a specific cultural value, to engage with a global theme of revising collective memory. Moreover, the newsprint paper which I use for my work has a distant history of being a material that brings availability to printed media. I try to recapture this historical purpose for newsprint paper by using the paper to create multifaceted surfaces that allow the archive imagery to be physically available for a viewer.” – Simon Tatum
Simon Tatum (Caymanian, b. 1995). Tatum’s work has featured in several group exhibitions that include, ‘Open Air Prisons: Las Antillias Para Los Antillianos’ at the LACE Gallery in Los Angeles, California; tIDal Shift -Explorations of Caymanian Identity at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands; and the ‘Caribbean Linked IV’ exhibition in Oranjestad, Aruba. His series ‘Discover and Rediscover’ was the subject of a solo exhibition at the University of Missouri art gallery and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. He is the recipient of several awards for his work including a scholarship from the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands for undergraduate studies; as an international artist grant from the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF); and the Richard M Henessy Scholarship Award. He has works in permanent collections in the US and Caribbean region that include the ‘Atelier 89’ Gallery and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Tatum is currently working on a new series of charcoal prints and mixed media sculptures for his next solo exhibition, ‘Looking Back and Thinking Ahead’. He recently had his first solo exhibition at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands in May 2017. Website: www.voyagerart.info
One of a series of photographic compositions created for the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands’ Upon the Seas exhibition (2017), this image illustrates the continued influence of the marine environment in the forging of Caymanian identity. At seventeen years’ old, Saunders was the youngest artist in the exhibition and while his experience is several generations removed from the Islands’ great seafaring tradition, he feels this connection keenly. Drawing inspiration from Caymanian and regional history, popular culture, and folklore –as referenced by the title Osiris, of the Egyptian afterlife myth – this startling hybrid portrait blends fiction and reality, reflecting an entirely new generation of young Caymanians and their evolving relationship to the sea.
Brandon Saunders (Caymanian, b. 2000). Saunders is currently studying A-level art at high school in Grand Cayman. He has been involved in art and design, drama, information technology, and music from a young age. He began publicly exhibiting his work at the age of 15 when he participated in the Summer Art Series run by pop-up art gallery ‘Peripheral Spaces’ (Camana Bay, Grand Cayman). Soon after he submitted work to the Poinciana Festival and finished as runner-up in the ‘Adobe Photography Category’ and People’s Choice Award. His work has since been featured in several local publications and group exhibitions including Upon the Seas at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.
White Plaits, Blue Braids # 1 & 2, 2015
Digital print on aluminum
24 x 24 (x2)
Themes of femininity, materiality, and sustainability, exude from this work. The cultural significance and roots of braiding trace back to the African continent, where braid patterns signified tribal associations and helped to identify marital status, wealth, power, social position, and religion. Similarly, in our current society, hairstyles and braiding function as a form of creative expression and social status. Here, the artist draws on these traditions but reworks the braiding using plastic bags – items which have come to represent the very worst aspects of mass consumerism. Ultimately, she is questioning our ability to co-existence with the environment and our need to act as custodians in this “New World”, we inhabit.
Kaitlyn Elphinstone (b. 1985) is an interdisciplinary artist who works in digital media and assemblage, often with found objects. Having grown up in the Caribbean, her work explores the abundant and rich natural world of the Islands to comment on the relationship of man with his environment and encouraging conversations concerning its preservation. Kaitlyn studied Visual Art and Art History at the University of Toronto and has a Master’s Degree in Arts Policy and Management from the University of London (Birkbeck). She is a founding member of the contemporary artist collective ‘C4’ and has work in the Permanent Collection of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Website: www.kaitlynelphinstone.com
Nasaria Suckoo Chollette
Mixed media installation with crocus fibre, metal and paint
42 x 36 x 12
Cotta/Africa: The circle of cloth women wore as cushion to balance baskets on their heads (Reference: Postcolonial Representation: Women, Literature, Identity by Francoise Lionet)
Cotta/Cayman Islands: The technique of dividing hair into sections and then wrapping them in circles around the root until you have a smooth flat bun and pin with hairpins; used to keep hair smooth during sleep, hence making it easier to comb the following day.
Drawing on the symbolism of the ‘cotta’ and historical associations of burlap – a material used to transport sugar to and from the colonies – Suckoo Chollette explores the evolution of domestic traditions from the African continent to the Caribbean. Says the artist. “This piece considers the things we carried over with us long the journey from Africa to become the diaspora, whether they were in our hands, our minds, or just below the surface of our psyche; intrinsic. Let us acknowledge how these journeys to transcendence were possible without the act of killing self. And yet, traces of what was before remain.”
Nasaria Suckoo Chollette (Caymanian; b. 1968) Born in George Town, Grand Cayman, Suckoo Chollette received a BA in theatre and a MA in educational theatre from New York University. She is an accomplished poet and dramatist who has represented the Cayman Islands internationally. She is a member of the artists’ collective Native Sons and has exhibited widely both with the group and as a solo artist. Key exhibitions include Native Sons’ Fahive (NGCI, 2005), Arreckly: Towards a Cultural Identity (NGCI, 2007), The Persistence of Memory (NGCI, 2011), tIDal Shift: Explorations of Identity in Contemporary Caymanian Art (NGCI, 2015) and Mediating Self (NGCI, 2017). Her work can be found in public and private collections in the Cayman Islands and internationally.
Shane “Dready” Aquart
Moko Jumbies, 2016
Digital drawing and acrylic pigment ink on canvas
32 x 48
Says the artist, “The kernel of this artwork started with a quote from Peter Minshall about his costume the ‘Dying Swan’, which he created for carnival 2016. He wrote, ‘I had seen ‘Moko Jumbies’ all my life, but one day, suddenly, I thought ‘my god he’s a ballerina on toes’… This is not a costume, this is Mas.’ The more I looked at photographs of carnival as base material for my project, the more I realized that while there is variety in carnival practices around the region, there are also connecting threads and histories which remain consistent. In the end Moko Jumbies resonate throughout the Caribbean… not in one ‘carnival’, but all of them. The a woman’s hand suggests the observer – the audience – again connected, but apart.”
Shane (‘Dready’) Aquârt (Jamaican-Caymanian, b. 1963). Jamaican-born Aquârt, who signs his art ‘Dready,’ has a whimsical graphic style influenced by his rich mixture of cultural experiences: a Caribbean childhood and education at an English boarding school, a Canadian high school and a U.S. college. Aquârt has illustrated several publications, and his solo exhibition Cayman Panorama: Things That Exist Only in My Fading Memory was featured at NGCI in 2013. In addition to fine art, Aquârt has created work extensively used in merchandising, commercial graphics and interiors. His work also can be found many public and private collections. Website: www.dreadyworld.com