Mark King

Barbadian artist Mark King shares his blog post about the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. King describes the experience as ‘an extended lucid dream’, one which all of the artists were reluctant to see end. He found the experience of being thrust into a new environment for an intensive two weeks of making, visiting artist studios and interacting with fresh talent emerging from the region incredibly rewarding, and all of the conditions came together to allow him to experiment with new ways of working and let his creative process evolve.

Sofia Maldonado, Dhiradj Ramsamoedj, Robin de Vogel, Shirley Rufin and Mark Kking. Image courtesy of Shirley Rufin.

Sofia Maldonado, Dhiradj Ramsamoedj, Robin de Vogel, Shirley Rufin and Mark King. Image courtesy of Shirley Rufin.

I’m finding difficulty putting my Aruba experience into words. On the final day our group had concluded that we were all in an extended lucid dream. A dream that was moments away from being rudely interrupted by an overzealous armrest pirate on the crammed flight back home.

Caribbean Linked ll was an experiment gone right. Throw 10 artists into a beaker, step back, and see what happens. Having Aruba as the setting was a great call. The island is such a cultural melting pot, an ideal space to navigate our processes and promote collaboration.

Breeze blocks. Image courtesy Mark King.

Breeze blocks. Image courtesy Mark King.

I fell in love with the local breezeblocks early into my stay; drawing, photographing, and spinning them. Political party flags and pop up campaign block parties were hard to avoid since it was election season. I drew most of my inspiration from my fellow artists in residence, the architecture, political flags and the sea of interlocking geometric shapes apparent throughout the island.

The added interaction with local established artists was a big bonus. They were so supportive and generous with their time and feedback. I was fortunate enough to be guided by master sculptor Ciro Abath in my pursuit to sculpt my version of the local breeze blocks. Although I was unable to finish the sculpture the experience working in a new medium was immensely rewarding. I have Robin de Vogel to thank as well for taking me through the process step by step.

I ended up exhibiting two pieces created using media I had not made work in prior to Aruba. #1 is a collage constructed of psychedelic origami paper and stickers , and Draai Mi consists of a concrete breeze block, 23.75 karat gold leaf, and electrical tape.

Caribbean Linked ll was about bringing together emerging artists from the across the region to make magic. All of the artist blog posts express that sentiment. We are a solid group. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of this art camp for grown ups. Where else could you get free dance (merci Shirley) and Papiamento lessons that include rounds of Balashi and Old Parr*?

The program was designed in a way that promoted a go-with-the-flow vibe we all had to adapt to. It allowed me to take things slowly and to have my current process (post Fresh Milk residency) evolve. Back in Barbados, sitting at my desk, I look up at my wall and what do I see, gaffer taped to it? The seed for the inspiration behind #1 staring right back at me. Funny how things unexpectedly link back sometimes.

Big thank you to Elvis Lopez, Annalee Davis, and Holly Bynoe for inviting me to be a part of this amazing residency.

Masha Danki, Aruba.


About Mark King:

Mark King is a Barbadian visual artist primarily working with photography. In 2011, he participated in a screen printing artist in residency at the FransMasereel Centrum in Kasterlee, Belgium. In the same year he was selected by the Lucie Foundation for their apprenticeship program. During the summer of 2012, Mark served as artist in residence at Alice Yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Mark most recently was Fresh Milk’s artist in residence from March – April 2013 in Saint George, Barbados.

Mark has called Barbados, The Bahamas, Brussels, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. home. His international perspective greatly informs his process. His work deals with themes relating to the individual’s stereotypical role in society. Satire is an integral part of his artwork.