Journeys are fundamental aspects of life and growth within human souls. Upon arriving to Caribbean Linked IV on August 1st, 2016, I was filled with emotion and excitement. I had never ventured past my homeland or the U.S. in terms of travel. The first aspect of Aruba that captured my attention was the ocean scenery. Flying over turquoise, crystalline waters mirrored the seas of my homeland. This slight feature gave me a sense of comfort in addition to the heat that welcomed me outside. Elvis Lopez was there to greet me and Oneika at the airport. His jolly smile and colorful appearance echoed acceptance and diversity. As we pulled into Ateliers’ 89, I became intrigued as to where this place would lead me. That first day I also met Frances, who with Oneika accompanied me on my walk around Oranjestad. There was humor and confusion as we attempted to navigate our way to the beach. Having gotten lost, we found not only a route home but a route to friendship. These two people, along with other creatives, would soon join my journey.
The first few days were riddled with introductions and tours. My roommates, having hailed from different Caribbean isles, presented common traits. We could relate to the perils of incompetent governments, brutal heat, the exoticism of tourism, and unique colloquialism. These diverse approaches to creativity and distinct art forms indicated the differences in us but also the commonality. We were all influenced by this tropical region we call home.
Navigating this foreign terrain brought not only realizations but inner reflection. The residents of Rancho City and San Nicolas exuded kindness and familiarity. These urban centers that marked history as being the first communities have slowly been phased out. Large developments and “ideal” tourist attractions have been introduced to fit metropolitan whims. This concept is strongly shared by my homeland. Thriving communities such as Fox Hill or Bain Town have slowly been left out of modernization over other areas. This shared reliance on tourism resonated deeply. The Aruban and Bahamian economy shared so many similarities.
As I continued traversing the island, the citizens intrigued me. I fell in love with their movements and reality. I wanted to capture these moments, collect them forever. My camera was my tool, the device that allowed me to harness these encounters. I expanded on street photography and introduced my painting practice. The cooperation I had from my fellow residents and locals fed my creative nature. Each captured moment linked me deeper to their souls.
This blend of culture and experience developed my creative outlook. The opportunity given to me by Caribbean Linked is cherished deeply. Through combining artists from around the region, we delved deeper into the societies that seemed so far from our own. Expenses, language, and sovereign ties often divide us as a region. The remnants of colonialism and tropical climates serve as common links however artistic expression strengthen this unison. Caribbean Linked not only functions as a unifying medium for artists but also as a collaborative force to harmonizing the region.