The inspiration for this collection is rooted in an experience I had several years ago while museum hopping in Washington, D.C. During a moment of rest, I became distracted by and attracted to the physical beauty of another art-lover standing nearby. Though we never exchanged words, I allowed my mind to play with the moment. The charged energy where something more is still possible, where some lush potential remains uninvestigated. Over the years, I reflected on the lasting memory of this encounter and how I might begin to communicate all that it meant to me.
In 2001, I prepared the first canvases that would result in this collection. While working on these paintings, I grappled with many challenging aesthetic questions: what does desire look like?, what is the color of yearning?, can the attraction between two people be seen?, what shape does it take when the images of those two people become more intimate and wanton? Through the use of vivid color, string on fabric placed onto the canvases, and imprinting parts of my body as an image, these images flirt with passion, desire and sensuality, while reveling in the kinetic moment just after the sparks begin to fill the space between two people and just before ...
"space between" - Walsh Metal Works Gallery, St. Croix 2002
"cuando me toques" - Cafe Berlin, Old San Juan Puerto Rico 2004
The show’s theme paralleled “Crucian” entitlement with African rites of passage into adulthood. It captured spiritual and subliminal links between the Caribbean and Africa, depicting large works meant to inspire introspection and meditation. I felt I uniquely capture my sense of place and pride in my heritage while aligning it with African rituals that are more encoded in my being instead of directly experiencing them. The images are truly strong and evocative and they elicited feedback that was very engaging and positive.
I fully understand the contributions my ancestors had made to this place which enabled me to call this “home”. I hope this awareness will help others here also understand the valuable role they play in their community. I am always surprised how similar the human experience is and how some individuals readily want to emphasize the differences rather than the likenesses we all share. I honestly feel that my long cultural history and lineage here in the U.S. Virgin Islands does in fact entitle me to protect, promote and even pontificate about this valuable commodity that exists here. I try my best to capture this belief through my artwork and through my efforts to save my ancestral sense of place.
"fervid & forthright" - TALLER LARJAS Gallery - 2001
Africa in the Heart of the US Virgin Islands - Grand Galleria St. Thomas VI & Matty Reed Center - Greensboro North Carolina 2001 & 2002
IV Bienal del Caribe. Museum of Modern Art Santo Domingo DR 2001
Matty Reed African Heritage Collection - NC A&T State University Greensboro, North Carolina
(ɛrʊˈbɛsəns) or erubescency
the process of growing red or a condition of redness
[C18: from Latin ērubescentia blushing, from rubēscere to grow red, from ruber red] ˌeruˈbescent adj
A premier show at TALLER LARJAS, LLC with the theme defined above. Many images executed represent personal experiences from my life at the time and the recent relocation of my office, gallery and residence in a color section of Christiansted.
"ERUBESCENCE" - TALLER LARJAS Gallery - 2000
"Contemporary Caribbean Vision." - Walsh Metal, Works Gallery, Group Show June, 2001
Via Collectiva: An Exhibition of Virgin Islands Paintings - Museo de las Americas, Old San Juan Puerto Rico 2002
"A Celebration of Diversity: In Pursuit of Fine Art." - Walsh Metal Works Gallery, Group Show January, 2002.
These pieces explore varying issues and concepts that affect themes I have experienced or am exploring related to my surroundings and community. Some images were created based on my participation in a themed art show or entry into a national or international exhibit.
Although each image stands on its own, many evolve from previous works and can present a lineal evolution of my artwork.
St. Croix (USVI). Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts.
Daily Strife. October, 2009.
III Bienal del Caribe y Latino America, Museum of Modern Art, Santo Domingo, DR 1996
VI Bienal de Pintura, Museum of Modern Art, Cuenca, Ecuador 1998
Recurring thematic themes are directing many of my current works. My most recent participation in a collective art show entitled Anatomy of An Heirloom explored messaging of our historic cultural resources and refashioning our views of how built our local environments. My collaborating artists were LaVaughn Belle and Niarus Walker.
Excerpt from my Artist's Statement:
As I continue to be a steward of our cultural resources, I can't help but feel a bit exhausted seeing so many non believers who don't want to embrace preserving and conserving our rich history. From across the Atlantic, the notion of some who would rather not discuss or admit the atrocities of slavery negatively affects some of our own citizen's perception. They think that our colonial past should go away. How do you engage and entrench the masses? One sure way is to tell the full story of what and who built our landscape … and for that matter, on who's back you built your country on.
In this never ending search to engage more people in the cause, my approach has changed and I dare say, become much more enlightened. For those Danes I referred to above, I've created a fictitious new Ice Spring drink based on one of yours: Iskilde Folkeoplysning.
It only seems appropriate that we, as a Territory, can now offer this form of egalitarian education to those Danes who don't quite want to discuss our intertwined past … and, as this wonderful water states: it guarantees enlightenment of one's conscience.
As for our local non believers, I have concocted a wonderful elixir based on one ayo luv tuh drink: Vitamalt. Since those of you who want to profess disassociation from anything colonial especially from Denmark: espousing eradication of our historical built environment, hear this truth. Your beloved Vitamalt mek in Denmark. So now follow this, yuh hate deh ole buildin' dem 'cause deh remind u o' slavery. Well chile, VitaMalt which you actually put in your body mek deh … so tek dat. Of course, my solution is to have you drink the Vita (Life) malt of the gods and rename it “Sapere Aude”. This latin saying is another one for enlightenment which means “dare to be wise”. So for those naysayers, I invite you to ingest my new potion of enlightenment. To all you naysayers, here and across the sea, come drink from my proverbial trough and awaken so that my work can become way easier to accomplish for me and for all a we.
"Anatomy of An Heirloom" @ Art at Top Hat March 2016
"Invisible Heritage", Curated by Monica Marin, CMCA Museum St. Croix & Copenhagen Denmark March 2017 & June 2017