Christina Leslie's Portraits

N.L.S., A New Local Space

Deborah Caroll Anzinger's artist run residency and exhibition space in Kingston


Leasho Johnson's Provocative Re-interpretation in 'Canopy Guild'

Light Sensitive

Marlon James' black and whites

Annalee Davis: ON THE MAP

Caribbean Political Documentary

Friday, August 16, 2013

Graphic Novels & Cartoons in the Caribbean

Lauren Hinds at her desk working on her comics
In contrast to my time studying at Kyoto Seika University in Japan, one of the main hubs of Manga and Comic research, the Caribbean has not been as acutely aware of sequential art/cartoon/ comics as a creative practice. Many of us in Jamaica for example, grew up exchanging Archie comics, borrowing a few Marvel and DC comics from friends and reading the Sunday funnies. The stories in these comics have often not been our own however. The appeal has always been there for these very relate-able and human stories which poke fun at daily life situations. The Jamaica Observer and The Daily Gleaner both feature the work of acclaimed cartoonists Las May and Clovis. These at least are daily reminders and reports which poke fun and satirize the political and social situations. Many cannot close the newspaper without their daily fix, whether it be local or syndicated from overseas.

There has also been a huge influence of Japanese animation on Caribbean creatives however and occasionally there will appear reports of Caribbean comics which closely resemble either the DC/ Marvel aesthetic or Anime and Manga (Japanese comics). It can leave us as audiences thinking that comics are an artform dominated by pre-programmed aesthetics from other regions and also as a more male-oriented artform. I recently spoke with Lauren Hinds whose work takes a different approach. She is influenced by literature and her work deals with issues such as growing up, being an outsider, relationships and friendships and internal dialogue.  Her work relies mainly on the visuals rather than the wit of her words even though the words themselves are often quite poetic. Lauren talks more about her work with me below.

You run a blog, "Sketch in Stories", what motivated you to start blogging publicly about your creative journey and how does blogging contribute to your creative work?

I started my blog by guess not really putting much thought into what I was going to blog about. It then turned into an avenue for me to become confident and comfortable about letting my work be seen. I think visibility is important if you want to take your work seriously and be successful at what you do. If anything it has contributed to pushing me to be my best and zero in on the   projects that I enjoy doing.

You trained at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, what was that experience like and what do you feel you took from this experience?

Being a cartoonist is a very humble profession. I think anybody who decides to become a cartoonist must know that it will push your skills at different levels. You have no control over what that will do to you. I went there not knowing much about comics except for reading Archie Comics, Mad Magazine, Photographic Romance comic books, the odd comic strip in the newspaper then later Graphic Novels. Because I went in sort of ‘naive’ about comics at CCS, I soaked up everything and questioned everything even things about myself. It worked for me and  I believe at the end of that experience I became who I wanted to be, a cartoonist.

On returning to Trinidad, how did your training at The John Donaldson Technical Institute and time as an Illustrator and Graphic Designer increase or change your creative options and outlook?

Those skills I acquired in the early part of my career have been good foundations going into comics. I definitely feel both occupations have brought me to this point in my life. They’ve added tremendous benefit to the process of making comics which demand the ability to illustrate and design a sequential story well. I also feel I can make better creative decisions due to these skills.

Frames from Lauren Hind's Outaplace

Your online comic "Outaplace" first caught the notice of ART:Jamaica as having a different perspective from a lot of the visible Caribbean comics. It is about a little girl at school, told from a female perspective and it doesn't explicitly reference Marvel, DC or Japanese comics. Tell us what “Outaplace” is about and what the story will develop into and what influenced it.

Comics has provided me an outlet to tell stories and give my perspective on topics that interest me. I feel that I’m bringing something unique to an audience who still view comics as only humorous or it has to have the appeal of mainstream comics to be accepted. My hope is to continue making honest stories I enjoy, using my voice.

Outaplace actually began with the present character in my comic strip, Frances Rustlebean. I wanted to introduce a girl who was very assertive, who said and did many quirky things. As I wrote and drew more she developed into a meek character who didn’t fit in at school and couldn’t make friends while questioning her place in the world. I approached the story from both a personal and observational account of how girls socialize with each other where they all meet for the first time, at school. Based on those experiences both good and bad it determines who they become. The main character is older, at 11, on the cusp of becoming a teenager who moves to a new school in the city. It’s a view into her world as she makes those transitions. Outaplace is being developed into a book, roughly about 64 pages.

A page from Hinds' graphic novel- in - progress, Wingless

You have a new project called "Wingless" which is a graphic novel. Is this based on Jamica Kincaid's short story of the same name? Will this be published as a book and what is it about? The initial drawings you have shown are very eye-catching, how do you develop the aesthetic and story of this seemingly personal graphic novel?

Constructing a story where I am the main character has forced me to peel away many layers of myself, as I grow, the story grows as well. It’s hard to explain how I developed the aesthetic for those initial pages, they were really based on a feeling or a memory while I was abroad. In some cases the writing came first, other times the image but I always leave some room for fantasy and the unexplained, it keeps the story interesting.

 Although I had been gradually developing this story for some time as it was initially called "Fear". The title changed when I came across Jamaica Kincaid’s short story Wingless. It was fascinating to me that there was so much subtle connections in her poetic prose, imagery...I saw myself, my story.The narrative started to come together as some of the themes I was exploring in my writing and illustrations had been written in her short story. There are underlying similarities - the constant use of nature as a mode to self-discovery that keeps recurring in my work also. That aspect of Kincaid’s story I’ll be exploring further in my graphic novel. Wingless is still being developed, not sure yet how much more of her work will be reinterpreted in mine. My hope is to have my book published.

 See more of Lauren Hinds' work and contact her at her blog Sketch in Stories 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Residency and Exhibition Connects Regional Artists


Ateliers '89 Foundation and the Mondriaan Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc., and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. presents Caribbean Linked II, a residency programme and exhibition which will take place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba. Invited Artists include: Omar Kuwas (Curaçao), Veronica Dorsett (The Bahamas), Mark King (Barbados), Shirley Rufin (Martinique), Sofia Maldonado (Puerto Rico/US), Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname), Rodell Warner (Trinidad and Tobago), Robin de Vogel, Kevin Schuit and Germille Geerman (Aruba). The selected artists were chosen collaboratively by Annalee Davis, Holly Bynoe and Elvis Lopez.

Caribbean Linked II will be held in association with Studio O, Terafuse, Museo Arqueologico Arubano, UNOCA, San Nicolas TV, Departamento di Cultura, SVE TV, Alydia Wever Theatre Dance Company and Gang di Arte Aruba. Most popular through Facebook and social media platforms, to be linked or to be connected is the world’s most common way to be associated right now. This residency and exhibition will present young talent while raising issues of their collective futures by discussing the survival of artists, and the sustainability of local creative communities that nurture their development and maintain their connectivity. This residency becomes a crucial space for building awareness across disparate creative communities in the Caribbean and its diaspora by finding ways to connect young and emerging artists with each other. Selected participants will engage in two weeks of open discussion and critiques, various professional workshops, visit established local artists’ studios and better understand the creative cultural industries that propel Aruban art. An exhibition of work produced during the residency will be displayed at Ateliers ’89 and will open on September th5


Collaborating local artists include Alydia Wever, Ciro Abath, Evelino Fingal, Glenda Heyliger, John Freddy Montoya, Marian Abath, Nelson Gonzales, Osaira Muyale and Ryan Oduber. Collaborating partner professionals and institutions include Vivi Ruiz of the Archaeology Museum of Aruba, Lupita Giel of UNOCA and Siegfried Dumfries of the Department of Culture.

Participating institutions include:

ARC Magazine -
ARC Magazine is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform founded in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas. ARC’s mission is to build awareness by fostering exchanges and opportunities that expand creative culture, within the visual arts industry across the wider Caribbean and its diasporas.

Fresh Milk -
The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. is a Caribbean non-profit, artist-led, inter-disciplinary organization that supports creatives and promotes wise social, economic, and environmental stewardship through creative engagement with society and by cultivating excellence in the arts. The idea for Fresh Milk developed over years of conversations with other practicing artists around the need for artistic engagement amongst contemporary practitioners living and working in Barbados, with an expressed need to strengthen links with the region and the diaspora. Fresh Milk bridges the divides between creative disciplines, generations of creatives, and works across all linguistic territories in the region – functioning as a cultural lab, constantly redefining itself. The platform transforms into a gathering space for contemporary creatives who are thirsty to debate ideas and share works through local and international residencies, lectures, screenings, workshops, exhibitions, projects etc.

Ateliers ‘89 -
The Foundation ‘Ateliers ’89’ offers Arubans and others interested from the Caribbean region an orientation on contemporary applied art and design. Workshops in different disciplines as painting, installations, videoart, photography, drawing, fashion, theatrical-design, ceramics, animation, graphic design and history of art are organized in a spacious, open and comfortable setting. Established foreign and local artist teach at the studio’s. Every workshop culminates in an exhibition which is open to the public. Furthermore, there are special workshops and tours of the exhibitions for children and young students. Ateliers ’89 works in close cooperation with a number of art academies in the Netherlands. This way, young talents who started off in the workshops of Ateliers ’89 can easily find their way to a Dutch academy.