“Reflections on Emancipation and Post Colonial Society” is a collection of the works of 17 Barbadian artists opening Friday in the upstairs gallery at the Caribbean Museum in downtown Frederiksted. The diversity of paintings, textiles, sculptures and pop art reflect the artists’ approach to the theme with their own unique visions.
Barbadian curators Anderson M. Pilgrim, Oneka Small and Shane Eastmond have collaborated to share their perspective and focus on the theme.
A noted independent curator, Pilgrim is president of Diaspora Now, Inc., an artist management and exhibition production company, as well as executive director of Caribbean Fine Art Barbados, the Caribbean’s only fine art fair held within the region.
“I’ve been fortunate to be invited and hired to curate Caribbean and diaspora art, thus elevating the arts of the Caribbean region,” Pilgrim said. Artists and artisans were able to speak to Pilgrim during his early days at Baruch College in New York when he interacted with them. He spoke their language and brought different skills to the table. He continued through the years, providing an approach, a liaison between the creative and the political and administrative folks, he said.
Pilgrim chose Small to work with him for her experience as an artist. “She’s good at it – highly trained and she’s about elevating the arts,” Pilgrim said.
Small is an artist and a curator. As an artist, she has shown her work both locally and internationally and has gained awards on the national level for her artwork. As a curator, she is one of the founding directors of Artists Alliance Barbados born out of “We Pledge Allegiance” curated in 2016. Small has curated 30 shows in the last three years and specializes in “pop up” exhibitions.
Pilgrim was drawn to Eastmond for his youth – he holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree and is open to new ideas.
Eastmond is among a cohort of young, extremely talented artists who are also entrepreneurs, creating a new market in the arts, not generally seen in Barbados. They are young and trendy. They are innovators bringing art into nonconventional art spaces and attracting a demographic of viewers who might not go to a gallery, but want the “Instagram” moment at an art party with live painting, music and food.
“Our focus on the theme brought us to discuss being truly emancipated as we looked at the other movements like ‘Black Lives Matter’ and how people of color and others are seeing it in a different light. We talked about ongoing reparations discussions and the movement for social justice in the Americas and beyond, and we conceived the ideas of the post-colonial society as we explored reflections on emancipation,” Pilgrim said.
“The three of us came together, gave the parameters to the artists and whittled down who we would ask to join the exhibit.”
Painter, sculptor, multidisciplinary artist Akyem-I Ramsay is exhibiting “Turf, The Geography of Memory Series,” a mixed media on canvas. He is a veteran exhibitor throughout the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe. His painting, prints, sculptures and installations are in numerous private and public collections.
Wood and stone sculptor Kenneth “Black” Blackman’s early training as a carpenter was a natural precursor to his development as a sculptor. Blackman revealed that his subjects derive from early life experiences and the people around him. He uses his work to comment on social issues and to make statements reflecting his cultural heritage.
Shane “Rudy” Clarke was born in the ’90s and is a self-taught artist heavily influenced by pop culture comic strips, graffiti and advertisements. His work explores the juxtaposition of these elements. Clarke’s “Blue Lady I and II” are acrylic on canvas.
Artist-in-residence Ras Ilik Heartman is a wood sculptor and a farmer. He will teach wood sculpture at CMCarts to children and adults during his five-week residency and will work with Barbados mahogany wood. Heartman is an organic sculptor. His first international exposure was at the Third Biennial in Cuba, which was followed by the “In The Spirit Festival” at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. He has shown at numerous exhibitions in Barbados and in the United States. His sculptures are in many private and public collections.
Pilgrim said, “We put the show together and did a preview in Barbados. People came out. We got press coverage. We got the knowledge of what we needed to do before we shipped it off to St. Croix. It was a nice exercise in getting the exhibit to St. Croix up and running.”
“We would love to sell art to the collectors; we hope people understand and respond to the exhibit and begin to have the conversations we would like them to have.”
Reflections on Emancipation and Post Colonial Society will be on exhibit and for purchase through Sept. 25.
The museum will open to a VIP event Thursday, Aug. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibit opens Friday, Aug. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Masks are mandatory and social distancing will be required with 10 patrons at a time in the gallery.
For more information: www.cmcarts.org