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Caribbeing art exhibit hailed a success

Published: 
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Janluk Stanislas, Elmore James and Isabel Bjolstad.

Caribbeing’s Visual Art Festival ignited keen interest in the Caribbean art form, receiving critical acclaim and widespread media coverage in the Tri-state area. The brain child of Trinidadian Shelley Worrell, the festival featured the works of an eclectic group of artists, photographers and film directors from the English and French speaking islands. The exhibit simultaneously displayed at Mocada museum in Brooklyn and La Maison d’Art gallery in upper Manhattan, and showcased the history and cultural expressions of the region’s diverse peoples. 

Art coordinator, Hugus Asdrubal of Guadeloupe called it “another dimension and flavour of artistic work that exuded rich depth.” At La Maison d’Art gallery, the black and white photographic stills of Daniel Goudroufee, alongside the dazzling colour of Martinique born painter, Alain Caprice reinforced the multifaceted prisms used to study and interpret the Caribbean experience. Both artists were prominently displayed. Goudroufee, who has worked in Trinidad, Cuba, Suriname and Jamaica, viewed his “stark photography” as “the best way to convey people in their natural environment.” He called his work, “art in its raw form.” His overriding intention he stated was “to capture that singular Caribbean element” amid the regions multicultural mosaic. 

In laboured English he said, “I am into human beings, people in general, so my art tends to unadulterated and graphic with a lot of emotions.” Equally compelling was Caprice’s Simple Story of Colour, a collage of slavery’s salient features-blending literalism and abstraction. “We are black people but a people of colour,” he noted, explaining his liberal use of colour. “Colour,” he emphasised, “adds elegance and flamboyance to our expression despite the horrors of our experience.” Multimedia artist Brianna Mc Carthy of Trinidad also captured the imagination with a collage depicting Caribbean women in a “more natural element,” and not in what she termed, “an exoticised fashion.” 

The “wearable art” exhibit of another Trinidadian, Robert Young also caught the attention. An artist and designer whose work has appeared in California and Washington, he praised the festival for having “offered an intimate setting to showcase new and inventive work.” Founder and director of Caribbeing, Worrell, attributed the festival’s success to its strategic partnership with the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, Animae Caribe and Mocado. She also touted the “dynamic talents” in the region as the driving force behind this “unique undertaking.” Indicative of the growing mainstream appeal of Caribbeing, Worrell has already been approached by Mocada museum to present a Carnival exhibit to coincide with next year’s Labour Day Parade. This year’s festival also featured the works of Ray Llanos, Teanna Woods and Nicole Titus.

• Dr Glenville Ashby

New York correspondent

The Guardian Media Group

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