Justin Reinir Croes

‘We are of Everything’ (Nos ta di Tur)

“Mi stima bo asina mi tera, un dia mi lo t’ey bek pa wordo dera” (I love you so my earth, one day I’ll be back to be buried)

Returning back to my birthplace of Aruba was an unexpected wonderment for me; just after graduating in The Netherlands and getting my Bachelor in Fine Art, winning an award (Jheronimus Atelier Prijs ‘22) and obtaining a free studio for a year and lastly having an art exhibition called ‘blij dat JIJ er bent’ (happy that YOU are here).

The expectation for me to be back was something anew, to experience Aruba from another perspective, in which I am like a visitor but at the same time knowing that I am home,  due to me staying at Atelier ’89 instead of staying with my family as per usual whenever I come back to Aruba.

Being in the presence of other Caribbean beings that were invited was a captivating time, concerning learning about their own respective points of view of their experiences while being on Aruba, and also being from their own islands.

Vesuhely: talking a lot about gender identity in the Caribbean diaspora, and for her learning how similar and yet different our sister islands are, regarding language and food.

Claudio: exchanging emotions, which plays a pivotal role in our colorful artistry, and embracing the moments to appreciate the things that can’t be fully in our grasps, like natural disasters that happen quite often where he comes from.

Taisha: what being a Caribbean person actually entails, from her perspective on how her thoughts differs from mine; my Dutch Caribbean roots cannot be so easily be the same as her English Caribbean roots, yet we are connected through our upbringings with music.

Romelinda: even as another fellow Aruban, we exchanged much new information regarding our upbringings in the Aruban environment, the commonality we share is astounding and ever appreciated.

John Reno: humor was the drive in our conversations that led to deep thoughts about how our societies work in these contemporary times.

Sarabel: looking into the ways how our lives can intertwine, from learning of the changing times, regardless of the nature and humanity at play.

Samuel: a look into the Caribbean mythology that is being represented through his art, and how it affects our past, present and future.

Béliza: insightful views into the French Creole Caribbean, and how language can separate but at the same time strengthen our love for our islands and our people.

Ethan: having similar experiences through his stories he told us about tourism and the connections we as islanders have with the people that weren’t raised in the Caribbean.

Sofía: being from Mexico, I was so entranced by her experiences and outlook on her creative directions in how she creates things, whether it is with food or curating us during our time at CLVI.

Conversing with the team of Caribbean Linked was a treasure in itself, as in how much appreciation is put in the effort to showcase the importance of art in the Caribbean diaspora, and that we will keep continuing to create for ourselves and for our people, regardless of the obstacles.

Elvis: the heavy responsibility and the acquired understanding of his passion to be taking care of art in Aruba; despite the opposing views of people not comprehending his important tasks.

Annalee: history keeper of her environment, which is lovingly shared through the knowledge of strength and remembrance.

Iyawo: a powerful and gentle aura which is in touch with the natural spirituality of her ever-widening sphere of care.

Katherine: an amazing being which I felt safety and love, truly thankful for you being you.

Lupita: an extroverted being that illuminates warmth and cozy feeling that is unforgettable.

Chrislene: the one which incorporates transportation to the place we need to go, during which she imbued many intriguing moments in which she felt like a sister; humor provided moments of solace for us.

Being on Aruba, talking with people and going to different places gave me insights which I have relearned through my time there, such as the reconnecting with nature and the multicultural heritage that we as Caribbean people have a mighty influence over.

Through my research of what I want to create during my time and for the exhibition, I wanted to learn more about plants and their relation to people living on Aruba, and the different prejudices we face just based on what we are as living beings.

For my work in the exhibition, I made three types of pieces that relate to what I have been learning while being in Aruba; canvas, interior land art installation & hanging sculpture installation.

The concept behind these works was based on the research I did of the different plants in relation to diverse types of people on Aruba, and of my own identity regarding my sense of belonging in the natural elements of Aruba.

For the canvas it is about connecting the emergence of the plants together with people – I learned that plants are just as diverse as people in the sense of our origin – and asking why people are so xenophobic to others while that doesn’t apply to plants.

For example Arubans regard Aloë like a native plant while it originated from Africa, which most don’t know about, like palm trees, Hubada (Acacia Tortuosa) etc.

Creating the works in connection to my identity, I made an interior land art installation with rucu (achiote/annatto) seeds, which I forged in regards to my ancestors’ story in my own perspective.

The hanging sculpture was created to accompany my performance about re-rooting myself again in my native earth.

‘NOS ta di TUR’ means that we are from everyone and everywhere and we are connected in ways we usually take for granted.