Michelle Drummond – dribbling in multidimensions of art
There are several traits that Michelle Drummond says are an integral and intrinsic part of her life – field hockey, sciences and the arts – they may not be dots to connect either one of them but she has managed to dabble and transition seamlessly between the three.
“Field hockey to sciences and now arts,” Drummond said. “There wasn’t really a transition from one to the next because all were and are still intertwined and have always been and continue to be the factors that remain a staple in my life.”
For this artist, who is making a name for herself in the United States, her teachers and mentors at school assisted her in pursuing her dreams. She is the first black woman awarded a solo art commission by the city of West Palm Beach.
Drummond is a contemporary mixed-media fibre artist who creates 3D forms by manipulating multicoloured and multiweighted yarn on and off the canvas. She brings her Jamaican and Caribbean flair, freshness, and vibrancy of colours to her works.
“The bright-colour palettes are influences and a reflection of my colourful and effervescent Jamaican heritage while the yarn is my medium of choice that allows me the flexibility to explore and manipulate materials that are usually associated with natural and soft forms to create rigid structures inspired by my experiences with a nurturing and warm appeal,” she said.
“This creates intrigue and evokes conversation.”
Her works may tell a myriad tales, but they remain influenced and seem to incorporate her influences, vibrancy of the islands in hues, the hockey turf, and also the hint of the fibre optic cables – a confluence of the right brain with the left.
This perhaps comes naturally to Drummond who played as a midfielder (halfback) – a pivotal position that required a player to be able to play defence and offence. She was a member of the junior and senior Jamaica Women’s National Hockey Team, and she was presented with an opportunity to study at St Lawrence University, iCanton, New York. Hockey, Drummond says, was more than a game.
“Hockey was a safe haven for me and provided me with a sense of security and comfort,” she said. “I was a part of a family with a solid foundation and impeccable reputation to produce stellar students, athletes, and professionals. It has truly helped to carve my path and made me the woman I am today.”
Drummond says she was fortunate to have been guided on the right path.
“Hockey has been and will always be a part of who I am,” says Drummond, adding that she was introduced to hockey in first form at St. Andrew High School for Girls. “I was taken under the wings of Dr Michelle Holt, who recognised and honed my athletic abilities as coach and mentor.”
The journey of becoming an artist was transitioning from AstroTurf to fibre optics
She studied mathematics, computer science, and French and then went on to do a post-graduate degree in general project management at Devry University. “This, I thought, would fulfil cultural expectations of what a successful student is and a path to a respectable career.”
Drummond worked for 11 years in general project management, with the bulk as a federal contractor, managing initiatives for various federal agencies mandated by the US Congress.
She was burned out and frustrated and decided to start her own management consulting company in 2014 to assist small businesses in need of strategic and project management guidance to manage programme and project activities.
Here she stumbled upon the palette.
“This also allowed me to focus more on my art and exploring new techniques and forms that spearheaded the evolution of my craft,” she said. “Over the years, I have focused more on my creative pursuits than the technical pursuits as I found that I am more fulfilled, and that is where my passion lies. However, I realised that I need to exercise both sides of my brain to give me balance and serenity.” Though, she says there was no eureka moment per se.
“I’ve always had the urge to create since my introduction to art in high school,” Drummond said. “I would walk by the art department several times a day during my time at St Lawrence University with that uncontrollable urge to create. After returning from a study-abroad programme in France and completing my electives to secure my BSc in Mathematics, I gave into that creative urge and spent my senior year taking fine-art courses, and fast-forward 23 years, I’m an artist!”
NEVER LOOKED BACK
She hasn’t looked back. Her concept for the West Palm Beach installation will be inspired by the philosophy that knowledge and transformation align and empower change and rebirth. It will include a large tree symbolising growth, strength, and beauty. The butterflies to be included will represent optimism and the unlimited possibilities that emerge through an organic transformation from one form to another. In total, the piece will measure five feet wide, seven feet high, and three feet deep.
Drummond is elated, and this is one of many milestones for her, and she cannot thank enough those who have helped and continue to help her in this artistic journey.
“My greatest influences were my hockey family back in Jamaica that created a second home for me outside of my biological family. They provided the needed mentorship and coaching that helped mold the woman I am today,” Drummond said.
Her artistic influences are from life’s simplicity – artisans behind the pushcarts who create domestic tools such as brooms, brushes, and other decorative objects.
“It was one of these handcrafted objects that sparked the idea during my sculpting class to create a sculpture using wood, nails, and yarn that started my journey as a fibre artist,” she said.
“Jamaica to the US – a very challenging transition. A huge culture shock in environment and social interactions. I believe for the first two years I was very nostalgic and unsure about the decision I made to leave home as I missed the familiarity of home, friends, and just my own culture. It was a huge adjustment for me especially dealing with factors that we as Jamaicans were not exposed to such as the stereotypes based on your physical appearance. However, this experience has given me the strength and exposure to assimilate, navigate and persevere in any environment.”
Drummond’s journey from field hockey to the sciences to the arts, from Jamaica to the United States, she says, has taught her life lessons, given her the strength and exposure to assimilate, navigate, and persevere in any environment.
“There wasn’t really a transition from one to the next because all were and are still intertwined and have always been and continue to be the factors that remain a staple in my life,” Drummond says. “During high school, we had a well-rounded curriculum that introduced us to art and craft, which is where my interest in fine art began, in particular a pottery class. Since my first touch of the clay, I knew that art would play a role in my life in one form or the other, and today, it is apparent in everything I do and a reflection of who I am.”
Her journey continues.