Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Miriam Hinds-Smith

Miriam Hinds-Smith - Thought We Mattered (2015), (Photo: Andrew P. Smith)

Miriam Hinds-Smith – Thought We Mattered (2015), (Photo: Andrew P. Smith)

Here is another post based on the exhibition text panels for Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, which will be on view from May 31 to August 8, 2015

Bio

Born in Jamaica in 1969, Miriam Smith received her education at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, where she attained a Diploma in Textiles. In 1999 she received her MFA degree from the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK. She lives and works in St Andrew, Jamaica.

About the Work

The mixed media artwork of Miriam Hinds-Smith highlights her masterful manipulation of fibres and textiles and it is striking that she should be the artist in the exhibition who most expressly questions whether her work should be defined as women’s art. Her work also reflects her experience with bookbinding. Some in the form of actual books, her works are often literal and symbolic pages weaving a personal history that highlights life-changing experiences but is also concerned with poverty and other historical and contemporary social injustices. The multi-panelled work Justice Denied…1600 and still Counting, the totem-like Guardian of Souls, and the haunting Thought we Mattered combine to make her installation Requiem of Souls, as the work on display is collectively titled, a reflective experience that stridently challenges the viewer to acknowledge the effects that these unresolved injustices have on our lives.

O’Neil Lawrence, Exhibition Curator

Miriam Hinds - Becoming a Memory (detail) (2015) (Photo: Andrew Smith)

Miriam Hinds – Becoming a Memory (detail) (2015) (Photo: Andrew Smith)

About Women’s Art

“The discussion of women’s art, or rather art made by women, needs to be viewed within a specific context. It requires an understanding of how women artists view themselves and how the controls and politics of the day engage or exclude female practitioners. Social status and relational proximity to these controls allow for particular voices to be heard, which in most instances are predominantly male; as against those who have been muted, predominantly female. However, if art-making is becoming increasingly borderless and ground-breaking, why would we want to prescribe artists to gendered definitions in the first place?”

“I see myself as an artist, not defined by my gender but by my desire to communicate on problematic societal issues as a nurturer, as a daughter, wife and worker. My own art involves experimentation with textile and thread, and although it is linked to tasks which are traditionally deemed “female,” I do not view it as “women’s work.” Such a categorization would be problematic, as it is near impossible to draw the line between men’s and women’s art within our (Jamaican) context. Within the global space that conversation may well be the converse as there is still strong evidence of this divide.”

Miriam Hinds-Smith

Miriam Smith - Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith – Justice Denied (2014)

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Kereina Chang Fatt

Kereina Chang Fatt - In Search of Silence 2 (2007)

Kereina Chang Fatt – In Search of Silence 2 (2007)

This is the second in our series of posts based on text panels from the Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which opens on Sunday, May 31 and continues until August 8, 2015:

Bio

Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1975, Kereina Chang Fatt attended the Edna Manley College where she acquired a Diploma in Painting in 1996, and continued with post-graduate studies in Printmaking the following year. In 2009 she attained her MA degree in Art Education through a joint programme between Edna Manley College and Ohio State University. She currently lives and works in Florida.

About the Work

Delicate threads and fabric are at the heart of Kereina Chang Fatt’s work and they act as powerful metaphors for the fragility of the human body and themes of fertility, loss and longing. Hauntingly beautiful, the dreamlike voile that constitutes and envelops works like Scrapes and Bruises and On the inside both obscure and invite the viewer to meditate on their own vulnerabilities as well as those of the artist. The visceral responses elicited by these works find a particularly resonant vessel in Progressive Unravelling, a work that not only speaks to her themes, which have a particular universality without in any way losing the intimacy of the personal, but also demonstrates the facility of the medium to elicit such a response.

O’Neil Lawrence, Exhibition Curator

Kereina Chang-Fatt - Progressive Unravelling (2008)

Kereina Chang-Fatt – Progressive Unravelling (2008)

About Women’s Art

“Art: a universal language; a coded message; visual stories; social commentary; feelings; memories; conversation pieces; blatant protest.  The creation of a being; male, female, human.”

“Art has the unique capacity to transcend gender roles or expectations and in its message stereotypes may be examined, challenged, reinforced or altogether shattered.  What is women’s art?  Is it timid, thoughtful, subdued, feisty, fearless, passionate, subversive? Is it solely art created by a woman?  Or is it art created for women with themes uniquely woman?  Perhaps women’s art encompasses all these ideas or maybe there can be no definitive answer.  Women’s art can be as mysterious as the idea of woman herself and with certainty somewhere within it all there is a story being told.”

Kereina Chang Fatt

Kereina Chang Fatt - In Search of Silence 2 (2007)

Kereina Chang Fatt – In Search of Silence 2 (2007)

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Introduction

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The Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, May 31 and as is now customary, we will be posting the exhibition text panels and other exhibition-related material over the next few days. Here is the first such post, the general introduction to the exhibition:

Seven Women Artists is the third in the National Gallery’s Explorations series, which explores major themes and issues in Jamaican art, and asks whether notions about women’s art are relevant in the Jamaica context. This question is asked with new and recent work by seven mid-career female artists, who live and work in Jamaica or are from Jamaica: Kereina Chang Fatt, Miriam Hinds-Smith, Amy Laskin, Prudence Lovell, Berette Macaulay, Judith Salmon, and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan.

The feminist movement produced major activist challenges to what had been a significant blind spot in the dominant art historical narratives: the marginalization of female artists and of what could be defined as “women’s art.” This campaign was spearheaded by feminist art historians such as Linda Nochlin and activist groups such as Guerilla Girls and has extended globally, into many different socio-cultural contexts. As a result, women artists are now receiving more recognition in art-historical and institutional narratives but the project is far from complete and women artists are still at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts, in terms of the dynamics of recognition and exposure.

Feminist art activists have argued that a major reason why female artists have been marginalized is that much of what they have historically produced does not fit dominant notions about “fine art.” The response to this has involved reclaiming and validating such “women’s work” and many feminist artists have embraced traditional “craft” media such as embroidery and quilting. Another area of feminist art activism has involved challenging the dominant representations of women in mainstream art, which have typically reflected male perspectives, and representing female themes from an assertively “female” perspective. This has involved at times provocative representations of female sexuality and the female body that illustrate the extent to which the personal is the political in this context. Such politicized conceptions of “women’s art” have however also been critiqued by those who feel that this pigeonholes female artists, who should be empowered to claim any artistic theme or medium they wish to pursue, without being tied down or defined by their gender. Continue reading

Last Sundays, May 31, 2015: featuring Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, Tanya Shirley and Kelissa

Explorations 3 cover

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present its new exhibition, Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, which opens to the public on Sunday, May 31, 2015, as part of the Last Sundays programme for that day. The guest speaker will be Taynia Shirley and there will be a musical performance by Kelissa.

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, the third edition of a series of exhibitions that explore the big themes and issues in Jamaican art, asks the question whether any concept of women’s art is relevant in Jamaica today. This exhibition, which was curated by National Gallery Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features the work of seven mid-career female artists who are based in Jamaica or of Jamaican origin and work in a variety of media: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Judith Salmon, Miriam Hinds-Smith, Prudence Lovell, Kereina Chang Fatt, Berette Macaulay and Amy Laskin. Viewers are invited to explore whether there are any commonalities that set these artists’ works and careers apart from those of their male counterparts and whether there is any justification to label them as “women artists.” Each of the featured artists has produced a statement on the subject that will be reproduced in the catalogue and the exhibition text panels. More information on this exhibition can be found on the National Gallery blog.

The poet-scholar Tanya Shirley has been described as “a startlingly bold writer with a particular gift for highlighting the telling detail in her vivid and arresting poems, which variously contain portraits of lovers, colourful eccentrics and family snapshots that capture the elusive magic of childhood memories, and reveal those paradoxical truths which all families strive to conceal.” She was educated at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she now teaches between time spent elsewhere in the Caribbean and the United States, and she obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She has published her poetry in journals such as Small Axe and The Caribbean Writer, and in New Caribbean Poetry: An Anthology, which was edited by Kei Miller, and So Much Things to Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Her debut collection, She Who Sleeps With Bones, was published in 2009 and she recently launched her second poetry collection, The Merchant of Feathers.

Kelissa McDonald was born and raised in the hills of St Andrew, Jamaica and was inspired from early on by reggae and Rastafari. With her parents as the lead vocalists in the reggae band Chakula, there was constantly music pulsating from her home. Her music has evolved into an expression of her background as well her stimulating living experiences in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana. At the moment, Kelissa resides in Jamaica where she continues to make positive and conscious music as an avenue to express her diverse experiences and to inspire and uplift others.

Admission on Sunday, August 31, 2015 is free but donations are gratefully accepted. The doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm but the opening speech and musical performance will start at 1:30 pm. The National Gallery gift and coffee shop will be open. Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists will be on view at the National Gallery until August 8, 2015.

Looking Back – the Jamaica Biennial 2014

We are pleased to present this exciting short video documentary which was contributed by Tristan Galand. It reflects on the 2014 Jamaica Biennial, which was in its closing week when the footage was shot, and  focuses on four artists, Camille Chedda, Sheena Rose, Phillip Thomas and Ebony G. Patterson, who present their reflections on the exhibition. With thanks to Tristan Galand and all who helped to facilitate this production, particularly Nicole Smythe-Johnson.

Coming Up – Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists

The Explorations III: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which will open at the NGJ on Sunday, May 31, asks the question whether any concept of women’s art is relevant in Jamaica today – it is part of our Explorations series, which examines the big themes and issues in Jamaican art, the first of which was Natural Histories (2013) and the second: Religion and Spirituality in Jamaican art.

Seven Women Artists, which is curated by Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features the work of seven mid-career female artists who live in Jamaica or art part of its diaspora and who work in a variety of media: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Judith Salmon, Miriam Smith, Prudence Lovell, Kereina Chang-Fatt, Berette Macaulay and Amy Laskin – a small but representative sample of accomplished female Jamaican artists. We invite viewers to explore whether there are any commonalities that set these artists’ work and careers apart from those of their male counterparts and whether there is any justification to label them, individually or collectively, as “women artists,” or their work as “women’s art.” We have also asked each of the artists to produce a statement on the subject that will be reproduced in the catalogue and the exhibition text panels.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - None but Ourselves (2015)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – None but Ourselves (2015)

The sculptural and sometimes wearable work of jeweller Jasmine Thomas-Girvan explores the complexities of Jamaican and Caribbean histories as well as the cultural implications of those histories.    Her spectacularly surreal assemblages often employ or are inspired by naturally occurring plant matter and oftentimes actively utilise found objects that have a personal resonance with the artist. Her work None but Ourselves references the intellectual legacy of Marcus Garvey highlighting the importance of the transmission of liberating values to the next generation.

Judith Salmon - Pockets of Memory (2012)

Judith Salmon – Pockets of Memory (2012)

The dynamics of memory are at the heart of the installation and assemblage work of Judith Salmon. Salmon who creates work that has, in some instances, involved an element of interactivity for instance Pockets of Memory (which invited viewers to leave notes or other things that had personal significance and made the audience a part of the creative process) explores the way in which memories are preserved obscured or lost over time. She utilises fibre, wax and various printmaking techniques to create work that contains multiple conceptual and also physical layers.

Miriam Smith - Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith – Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith is known for her mixed media artwork prioritised by her manipulation of fibres and textiles. Her work also reflects her experience of bookbinding, some in the form of actual books are often symbolic pages weaving a personal history that highlights life changing experiences but is also at its heart very much concerned with historical and contemporary social injustices. The multi-panelled work Justice Denied…1600 and Still Counting reflects that focus and challenges the viewer to do the same.

Prudence Lovell - Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell, an artist who’s widely ranging concerns coalesce in a number of stunning drawings and collages. To paraphrase her own words Lovell explores ‘the history and potential for allusion’ found in art as well as the various ‘truths’ found in documentary images. The ambiguities and disjunctions that occur due to the immediacy of photographic and other digital imagery and seeming reliability of these images and the often result in a rupture between perception and reality. Her most recent work, such as Untitled (Connected II), is based on Skype conversations with her children, who are studying overseas, and address the moderated reality of online connections, in terms of the ambiguities of the simultaneous experiences and realities of proximity and distance. Continue reading