Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tricia Gordon-Johnston: Balancing commercial and fine art practice




Tricia Gordon-Johnston is a practicing fine artist and recent graduate of Edna Manley College. She has exhibited in integral shows such as Curator's Eye II at The National Gallery in 2006 and SuperPlus Under 40 Artist of the Year 2006 at The Mutual Gallery. She currently does digital and photographic commercial design work alongside her artistic practice- not unlike many Jamaican artists. Her studio work however has been rooted in the conceptual tradition of feminist art and the tactile modernist work of various Latin American artists. ART:Jamaica has asked her to share some of her experience with balancing what has traditionally been thought to be conflicting forms of art.
Q. How do you balance art practice with your commercial work?
A. I think there is always a duality between Fine Art and Commercial work. Finding the balance, or the key must be in viewing both as art practice and contributing to our work each day, it is after all a way of life, as Petrona Morrison and Cecil Cooper used to state to us at The Edna Manley Collage of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Q.How did art college prepare you for real world survival?
A.College prepared me for the real world by both teaching me and reminding me that our vision of the world is what informs what we see from any perspective, if it is all beautiful, then it is all art, it's also what we make it.

Before I studied at Edna Manley Collage, I studied Business and Marketing. Now, as a practicing artist, I incorporate all three. The target market is also the audience, each possibly willing to purchase our version of our identity, as we project it on to a canvas.

I think our creative headspace is a Conceptual Space and not confined to a box, perhaps three boxes. I suppose the three boxes would be The National Gallery, the Mutual Gallery and of late I have also been thinking about The Cage Gallery. We each, I think bring something powerful, meaningful and excuisite to the table.

Also, when I sit at any table, I look and listen for live performance, that is what always transitions, for me, a circular table into a square of open-ended possibilities. I have also sat at many tables around the world and what makes me Nationalistic is both the way we fit in and stand out, internationally. Our Cultural 'flavour', if you will, is like an energy wire that connects us with consistent threads.

The fine arts are much like the fine art of everything. It may be an acquired taste, but if it ages like fine wine, then our identity is what reminds us that we have already done the healing an life is our Ackee and Saltfish, for the enjoy-ing.

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