Joan Mitchell Center AIR Program
Staten Island, NY
1997 Painters & Sculptors Grant Recipient
Artist's Statement (2013)
Rich with associations to my hybrid autobiography, American and Jamaican folk culture, music, art history and world culture, my human-scale sculptures radiate a playful and serious inquiry into concepts of origin and transformation. My art is to a large extent a product of bi-culturalism, a merging of my Jamaican heritage and American education. Through their formal rigor and the poetic associations that the recycled elements trigger, the sculptures narrate stories of personal identity, family, spiritual and physical journeys, erotic tensions and nostalgia for home. Bedsprings, empty bottles, machines, children's worn-out toys and other discards of our material lives take on a new world of symbolic meanings, powered by my unconscious and pent-up energy unleashed from objects that, to a less sensitive eye, might appear to be junk.
The technique of assemblage has a distinguished history in fine and folk art. The Modernist Marcel Duchamp's use of ordinary objects as "readymade" works of art holds a special place in my complex process. I am also inspired by Surrealism's uses of automatism, disjunction and reliance on the unconscious. Although based largely on intuition, my process does not exclude formal decisions. I also tap into non-Western cultures and belief systems such as Australian Aboriginal art, Haitian, African, as well as cross gender lines by using domestic craft techniques of sewing and embroidery usually associated with women's work.
My sculptures are usually wrapped in rope and or wire. The laborious action of binding creates spiritual and physical links that construct my cultural history. Incorporating a wide range of materials and mediums, my work explores themes of life's experiences. Over the past two decades, I have been working on a body of sculptures and drawings that evokes memory, loss and cross cultural ties. I am summarizing this epoch as it relates to me, my heritage and people's universal commonness. The work as a group, through object and thought, embodies power and history.
Boy, 2007, roller skates, wire, bottles, bamboo, wood, nails, screws, 29 x 19 x 29 inches.
Buddha, 2008, wire, bottles, bamboo, wood, metal, ice skates, wheels, 81 x 50 x 52 inches.
Tree House, 2008, stones, rocks, wire, rope, (hanging height variable) 48 x 32 x 32 inches.
Northern Lights, 2010, helmet, rope, wire, wood, screws, stones, roller skate, toy horse, 41 x 18 x 25 inches.
Tricycle, 2006, rope, wood, glue, tricycle, toy truck, bottles, wire, 30 x 45 x 28 inches.
All works are copyright of the artist or artist’s estate.