Art residents tracing memories
The space in the room at Grosvenor Galleries in Constant Spring was just about enough for the people who came out to see the works of Esther Chin, Errol Keane II, and Kelley-Ann Lindo on Saturday, August 11. They were showing off the products of their four-week art residency in an exhibition called Tracing Memories.
Chin, Keane, and Lindo, were selected from many applications for the residency programme, coordinated by Blaqmango Consultancy, a not-for-profit start-up, and hosted free of cost by Grosvenor Galleries, located at 1 Grosvenor Terrace.
According to Winston Campbell, one of the coordinators at Blaqmango, the objective was "to encourage the artists to continue working ... What we find in Jamaica is that many of our graduates ... tend to not have opportunities to produce work or to show their work. So from the residency, we are saying to artists, opportunities exist, and we are going to facilitate".
Chin was facilitated by Backpackers Hostel, located at Grosvenor Galleries. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in painting from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA). She is also a 2017 graduate of the University of Kentucky from which she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture/fibre.
Loss and trauma
"Chin's mixed media installation explores issues of loss and trauma. She sees her art as a means of healing through explorations of flora and fauna, cultural identity, and personal experiences. Chin uses her work to investigate ways of coping with the absence and loss of a parent," Blaqmango said.
She lost her mother last year while studying and is still trying to cope with her loss. For her residency project, she looked to nature. She turned driftwoods into dreamcatchers, "sacred hoops", representing the womb, which is sometimes beset by diseases. She also covered objects with hundreds of bougainvillea petals and strung hundreds of little white flowers on strings that dangle. It is about "honouring my mom, but also a journey of healing physically and mentally".
Holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Visual Communication, Errol Keane II is another graduate of the EMCVPA. He has participated in exhibitions such as Art on Walls (Spanish Court Hotel, Jamaica, 2017) and the Final Year Student Exhibition (Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Jamaica, 2017).
Through acrylic on plyboard, Keane tells stories in Braille and images of the Daughters of Oshun, his real-life female friends. In the West African pantheons, Oshun is an orisha (deity) from the Yoruba culture, representing womanhood, fertility, and the river. In speaking with The Gleaner, he said that the west African theme came out of hi search for himself, ancestrally, his African identity. Braille was incorporated to include the visually impaired into the narratives, so it was used to tell the story of each of the daughters depicted in the paintings.
His four pieces are "intended to advance the dialogue around how males interact with females within Jamaican society by presenting narratives of coercion ... Keane encourages physical interaction by/with the visually impaired community, as well as comments on how blind some of us can be to a clearly presented story reflecting a problem in our society", Blaqmango said.
For Kelley-Ann Lindo, it was "one month of pain" from the pricks she got from the needles that she used to execute her three pieces of patchwork. Like Chin, her work was influenced by the loss of a loved one, her grandfather, with whom she lived as a child. With bits and pieces of fabric and yarn, Lindo questions the meaning of home, "a place to run to and a place to run from".
In 2015, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the EMCVPA and has previously participated in residencies at New Local Space in Kingston in 2017 and at Alice Yard in Trinidad and Tobago in 2016. Lindo has also exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica in the Jamaica Biennial (2017) and Digital (2016) exhibitions.
"Lindo's mixed media installation explores the idea of fragmented memories. She uses her experiences as a catalyst to discuss displacement as a manifestation of the idealised concept of the term 'home'. Lindo reflects and questions the meaning(s) of the home space and how meaning is altered by the presence/absence of human engagement," Blaqmango said.
In assessing the work and the show put on by the residents, Campbell told The Gleaner, "They have done well. We are happy with the outcome."