Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Artist Statement

My work deals with issues of religion, prejudice and race relations. Due to my unique circumstances of growing up in Trinidad, I offer a different point of view on these delicate matters and contribute to the largely unvaried public discourse. All Caribbean people have been exposed in one way or another to prejudice.

Racial conflict between what is commonly referred to as the 'blacks' and the 'whites' of the region is often assumed to be the 'whites' playing the role of the oppressors and the 'blacks' the oppressed. As someone who is considered to be 'white' that grew up in a predominantly 'black' middle-class community, I am living testament that racial prejudice can go both ways. Both the 'blacks' and the 'whites' are oppressed at the hands of the other, and at times by themselves. It angers and disappoints me that a fellow countryman could be made to feel as though he doesn't belong in his own homeland.

The multicultural society of Trinidad and Tobago is full of religious fundamentalists and fanatics. These persons, who are so convinced in their beliefs, often discourage the exploration of any other belief system other than that of their own. This practice only perpetuates misunderstanding, segregation and prejudice within the society. For example my Roman Catholic parents would never allow my brother and I to attend the Divali and Eid-ul-Fitr school celebrations for fear of what spiritual attacks we may encounter. When questioned if I were to marry a Hindu man if she would attend the Hindu wedding ceremony, my mother replied that she would not, because it would not be a marriage recognised by God. I find these uninformed conclusions to be narrow-minded.

I believe that many Trinidadians are so concerned with their own realities that there is no interest in the other. The other man. The other religion. The other culture. I use my experiences in these matters as tools to digest and expel my own insecurities. The work is a reflection on my own understanding of the misfortunate actuality of the space in which I live.

The imagery found in my work is derived from the physical and social landscape of Trinidad and the experiences that take place in these spaces. My mediums of choice are paint (acrylic, emulsion, body paint) and fabric (canvas, cotton, cotton-blends). I produce sculptural works made of plaster. I also produce a bit of film/video and animation work."

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