Last Thursday, renowned artist and entrepreneur Susan Mains of Susan Mains Gallery hosted the opening of Grenada Contemporary 2015 – an art exhibition showcasing work from Grenadian artists from December 10th -28th, 2015.
Earlier in September Susan sent out a call for participation on the theme: “Grenada is in a time great social flux. Playing fields that were once teeming every evening with youth playing now sit empty. The electronic information portals such as phones, tablets and laptops are replacing the human interaction once so essential to the culture of communities. If artists are the “grios” of culture, the story tellers, the communicators, how do we interpret this reflection of who Grenada is becoming.”
Thirteen artists responded, ten of which were participating for the first time.
Almost like a sequel to last year’s Contemporary, the work of the artists were without doubt, amazing! The imagination of the artists to produce such thought-provoking pieces seem to have no limit. Photography, paintings, installations, sculpture and video explored technology filled each corner of the gallery, deepening the interest of the audience as they moved from one piece to the next.
It was an exciting moment, especially for two artists Targhyl Thomas (Bob) and Alleon Alleyne who displayed their work for the very first time. Targhyl’s piece, entitled Follow is a collection of paintings appealing to youth to stay in time to our culture. Using follow buttons as seen on Instagram, the collection pleads to the youth to like, comment, share and follow the culture.
Alleon Alleyne submitted two black and white photographs documenting how a quest for WiFi brings two siblings together.
Speaking of ‘firsts’, John Henry exhibited the largest painting he has ever done. John’s piece, which I thought was an excellent representation of the theme, shows data streams flowing through a young woman which relates to the influence of technology on the development of youths. His concern is that if proper measures aren’t taken to secure, protect and educate our future children of our past heritage, it may as well cease to exist.
Suelin Low Chew Tung presented a collection of silhouettes addressing the issue of penmanship no longer needed since technology has brought us to communicate via email, social media and phone.
“I am a silhouette, those cutouts which give a gist of what a person looks like, but nothing about who he/she is, a featureless interior.” – Suelin Low Chew Tung
Asher Mains stitched fragments of banana stalk together into a magnificent installation he called Glitch. “Wow!”, is all I could say. This piece was definitely well thought out and the meaning behind it was even more intriguing.
The patches of banana represent packets (pixels, glitches, digital artefacts) which portrays the process in which the mind takes information then puts it together and the way in which nature organizes processes.
“It is important in my work to reflect a local material culture and to enforce our own consciousness as members of our environment. ” – Asher Mains
Oliver Benoit, known for beautiful abstract pieces, themed his work on the idea that community activities, which was used as a means to encourage social bonds, are now replaced by social media.
“The society is crumbling beside them and they are not noticing it, they do not see the destruction. They are texting. ” – Oliver Benoit
One of my favorite pieces was from Christina Cornier. She did a life size selfie painting with the title Me, Where I Was and Who I Was With.
Christina refers to the selfie as ‘the modern day story-teller’ and so she is documenting the process of those documenting themselves (taking a selfie.)
“This is who I am, where I am, what I am doing, what I am feeling, who I am with. I exist. Look at me. I am important.” – Christina Cornier
Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe and Andrea McCloud both compiled short films for the show. Malaika’s film shows children being intertwined with cords signifying the relationship with technology – either good or bad. The actual wire from the video was on the floor.
In Andrea’s film, Alert, different sounds echoed in the background while youth stare into the camera, some interacting with technological devices. Her message is that the influence of new media is left up to the audience to decide whether it is of negative or positive effect.
Young minds are seen as susceptible to control by ‘modern’ forms of communication…” – Andrea McCloud.
Rene Froehlich uses fibreglass to portray thoughts flowing out of this colorful cut out of a human body he calls Frozen. Besides it sitting in the center of the room, this piece really caught my attention. The fibreglass flowing out of the head, hit the nail! It signifies lack of emotion and connection to other people from use of social media. I know many can relate to that.
Jason Campbell did a painting with a phone both on a carenage with the title Antique. This scene brought me back a few years ago before cell phones and internet; the times when phone boots were a common means of communication.
Frederika Adam and Tony Elahee originally from Grenada, both did prints. Frederika’s print is a camouflage using maps of our tri-island state and Tony’s print of the Grenada Chocolate Factory paper wrapper is because of its significance to Grenada and the fact the value of chocolate would have been recognized through the use of technology.
There was also some live art taking place staff stood at different places throughout the show all looking down at their mobile devices.
This is what was on their t-shirts:
And then the attendees. 🙂
Grenada Contemporary 2015 undoubtedly surpassed my expectations. The artists’ work was truly inspirational and of high standard. Though it was understood that the artwork centered around a theme, the details of the pieces raised the audience’s interest which lead to questions to get a clear picture of the thought processes of the artists such as the significance or meaning behind Rene’s fibreglass, Malaika’s cords, Asher’s banana stalk and Targhyl’s ‘follow’ buttons. I loved hearing the artist’s perspective on their work.
Take a look for yourself at Susan Mains Gallery, Spiceland Mall, St. George. The exhibition ends December 28th, 2015.
Have you been to any of Susan’s exhibitions? Share your experience by commenting below.