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Art is where the heart is


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Art is where the heart is

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A GROUP OF Barbados Community College (BCC) art students are adding their own splash of colour to the world.

Jehmilah Wood, Akilah Watts, Anna Gibson and Alanis Forde are concerned about the development of art in Barbados. They say local art is stuck in the past and they have made it their duty to make it more contemporary.

The group said it was time Barbadians changed their views about art and explained the challenges they encounter as art students.

Anna Gibson, 20: I find most people see portraits as being art but it is more than just painting a face. When people hear you are an artist they are like “Oh, that means you can draw my face” but they have to find a deeper understanding of art and what it is. When it comes to art everything is not as straightforward as one may think you have to look beyond the image on the canvas and understand the story being told. Art is deep and should evoke an emotion from the person viewing it.

Alanis Forde, 20: When you tell people you have an art show they say it is not their thing. They have this idea that only rich people are supposed to like art and go to art galleries. They see art as something high class and prestigious and above them. This is also what they see perpetuated in the media and although to some extent it is true art is a part of our culture and history and it is not limited to one group of people. 

Jemilah Wood, 19: I have a problem with art spaces. I don’t think it is a case where we don’t have many art avenues but it is what those spaces accept as art. I have applied to several galleries here. When you put forward pieces the curator would say, “It doesn’t really look like Caribbean or Bajan art.” And obviously when you hear that you feel disrespected and taken aback. But it is because you present something different they do not want to accept it. They want stereotypical tourist art such as palms trees, chattel houses, a donkey cart, and sunsets at the beach or cane cutters. Nothing is wrong with that but they put us in a box and limit us. They just want the same thing over and over again.

Akilah Watts, 20: We try to be different; that is why we do contemporary art. It allows us to truly express ourselves. We can tell a story about issues that are happening around us and affecting our people. We do not have to confine ourselves to a rigid standard. That is why we as artists need to give curators what they want even if they do not know what it is they want. This is something we are passionate about and have studied extensively to be at the level we are at, who is going to tell us what is? And how could you tell us that our work is neither Caribbean nor art?

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