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HomeArts-EntertainmentLa Vaughn Belle Exhibit: CMCARTS Through Jan. 13 - Film Screening and...

La Vaughn Belle Exhibit: CMCARTS Through Jan. 13 – Film Screening and Artists Talks – Jan. 5

La Vaughn Belle (Submitted photo)

Artist La Vaughn Belle’s solo exhibit, “Being of Myth and Memory,” at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts on Strand St. in downtown Frederiksted, opened Dec. 2 and can be seen through Jan. 13, Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The exhibit is curated by esteemed art historian and curator Erica Moiah James.

A screening of the film “We Were Never Meant To Meet” on Jan. 5, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. is a Reparative Encounters project that brings together artists and researchers from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Ghana, Kalaallit Nunast (Greenland), and Denmark. The group will exchange knowledge and foster artistic collaboration across these locations differently impacted by coloniality. This free event is organized within the context of Belle’s solo exhibition at CMCARTS.

“My work is about unbecoming a colonial being and the power of story in that process. I was born in the dual island nation of Trinidad and Tobago with all my political rights intact. I would soon lose them when my parents migrated to the U.S. Virgin Islands when I was five months old. I became something between a subject and a citizen. I belong to this place that has changed colonial hands seven times – the longest being Denmark and the last being the United States. My work deals with this history, that is both personal and global, and tells new stories that validate freedom and self-determination. In my practice, I examine archives, architecture, and other aspects of material culture from the colonial period. I look for the narratives inscribed in various objects and places. I find ways to add to them and subvert them by layering other narratives including my own. I also look to elements in the natural world like the land or sea and powerful forces like the hurricane or the black hole for strategies to create new geographies. I move fluidly between painting, sculpture, video, public intervention and writing. In this way, I am sometimes making myths, other times maps, counter monuments and archives. What is constant are my desires to piece together the fragments, to move beyond colonial nostalgia and to make visible the unremembered,” Belle shared.

A commission with the Royal Copenhagen, a renowned brand of porcelain products, was the result of Belle’s work with colonial-era pottery. 

Her work has been exhibited in the Caribbean, the USA, and Europe.

Belle is the co-creator of “I Am Queen Mary,” the artist-led, groundbreaking monument that confronted the Danish colonial amnesia while commemorating the legacies of resistance of the African people who were brought to the former Danish West Indies. 

In her multifaceted exhibit, Belle explores the relationship between history, memory, and myth. She expands on Black feminist writer Audre Lorde’s concept of bio mythography, in which myth and fiction function to frame past, present, and future selves.

For Those of Us Who Live At The Shoreline

“A Litany for Survival” is Audre Lorde’s poem. The first line is used as the exploration of the relationship between the body, landscape, history, and memory. The topography is constructed by blending plant species that grow specifically at the coastline and function to both hold in and feed the soil. The species are the keepers of the boundary, constructing a kind of living archive as the root systems hold in the erosion of memory and time. They also protect, filter, and some even poison, as they are a part of dynamic marginal ecosystems. In this work, Belle considers how, for those of us at the shoreline, at the liminal spaces between subject and citizen, survival is based on the crucial decisions of what one remains rooted in and what must be allowed to wash away.

For Those Of Us Who Live At The Shoreline_006 (who breed futures) 2023. Digital collage printed on aluminum Edition 1/5 (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
For Those Of Us Who Live At The Shoreline_004 2023. Digital collage printed on aluminum Edition 1/5 (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
For Those Of Us Who Live On The Shoreline_005 2023. Digital collage printed on aluminum Edition 1/5 (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
For Those Of Us Who Live At The Shoreline_001 2022. Digital collage printed on aluminum Edition 1/5 (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
For Those Of Us Who Live At The Shoreline_003 2023. Digital collage printed on aluminum Edition 1/5 (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
For Those Of Us Who Live At The Shoreline_002 2023. Digital collage printed on aluminum Edition 1/5 (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Sovereign (how to pull a spear from our throat)

In this sculpture made of paper pulp and soil, Belle explores the myth and memory of the first encounter narrative of Columbus’ arrival to the island of St.Croix. Researching the four archival documents that tell a story of a violent encounter between the Caribs and Columbus’ men., Belle centers on the detail of one of the women fighting back in the water, swimming, and shooting arrows after their canoe was capsized. This resulted in death on both sides and Columbus naming the location El Cabo De Flechas/The Cape of Arrows. Belle presents her allegorical version of the narrative through a shapeshifting figure in the position of an archer with arms made of a configuration of tree and root-like structures encircled in glimmering broken bits of mirrors and glass. 

Sovereign 2023. Mixed media (how to pull a spear from our throat) (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Storm (in the time of temporal and spatial collapse)

Belle has been exploring the iconic tropical palm tree images of the Caribbean since 2015. She began depicting the trees amid a storm rather than the tranquil look of paradise. The series explores the turbulent histories that have shaped the Caribbean and the resilience required by its inhabitants to live there. 

Storm (in the time of the temporal and spatial collapse) _005 2020. Charcoal and ink on paper (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
Storm (In the time of the temporal and spatial collapse)_006 2020. Charcoal and ink on paper (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
Storm (in the time of the temporal and spatial collapse)_011 2020. Charcoal and ink on paper (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Storm (how to imagine the tropicalia as monumental)

During Hurricane Maria in 2017, Belle’s artist studio was damaged. She chose to incorporate the paper that was salvaged as an archive of the storm instead of throwing it away. She pieced together the torn fragments and explored the aesthetic possibilities of land, sea, and storm. It is an attempt to formulate new geographies and new conceptions of space and self. Belle incorporates cuts and burns into the paper, which has been a part of her vocabulary since 2016. She works to memorialize the dual states of violence and repair that are endemic to the Caribbean.

Storm (how to imagine the tropicalia as monumental – as in a memory that cuts like rivers) 2023. Charcoal, ink, and acrylic on paper with cuts and burns mounted on muslin (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

The Gallery Room overlooking the waterfront has been painted by Belle as a background for her smaller framed pieces of art.

Belle has incorporated a wall of painting as background for her smaller framed pieces (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Belle offers two videos that can be viewed at the museum: 

In The Place of Shadows (2022)

Between the Dusk and Dawn (2023) (navigating an unsettled empire)

 

For more information:
www.cmcarts.org
www.lavaughnbelle.com
On social media: @lavaughnbelle 

 

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