Vesuhely Americaan

Taking off I realized how much I gained from this experience. I was left with a divided heart, like the divi-divi seeds, that would have stopped time the night before if it could. Sitting underneath the warm embrace of the Indju tree and a crown of bright lights, we tried to hold on to the moment. With an open heart, sharing our thoughts, worries, and our need for just one more week of this beautiful experience. Overwhelmed by tiredness, barely keeping my eyes open. Floating amongst the clouds, reminiscing how Caribbean Linked VI and all my fellow artists changed my life. Being around such wonderful people, really made me feel safe and able to open myself. With a silent push, without knowing, this group of people helped me on my journey, creating a full-circle moment for me, as an artist and as a woman.

At first, I could not understand why it was so difficult for me to put this experience into words. I could not even understand the magnitude of this experience’s effect on me. Getting back to reality, life and responsibilities, I see, more than before, the importance of having spaces like CL VI and Ateliers ’89. And the significance of creating connections between the Caribbean Islands. Being able to create without any limitations, makes the artist soar and open up to everything that the adventure has to offer. It was such an ideal world, for me as an artist, that being back home was a slap in the face. A topic quite discussed during the residency, was the possibilities and ways to sustain ourselves in the Caribbean. The fact that the value of art is not seen in each of our communities and the lack of funding is very saddening. Seeing the artistic community in Aruba, made me reflect on ways that I could help my own community in Curacao grow. I am learning more and more that we need to create spaces for ourselves. It is time to stop thinking of ourselves as little, if we come together we can be bigger!

During the residency I found myself having a lot of exchanges about identity. And even though we are located in different parts of the Caribbean sea we are so similar. Though I have also encountered things I’ve never had to think about before, like thinking of getting another nationality to have more opportunities in life, or worrying about natural disasters. Having so many perspectives on what it means to be an islander expressed through art is baffling:

Traveling with a white elephant that symbolizes one’s relationship with one’s island 

Letting the environment take over the process of painting 

Finding the positive and beauty in a natural disaster and showing how resilient a country and its people can be 

Having an honest rendition of the identity of a society

Coming together as a community to share and grow together

The connection between humans and nature, and how fragile we are

The enthusiasm within the search for one’s identity, how to use fragments of a culture and make them your own

Looking for the harmony between past and present within one’s identity, history, and culture

Trying to make life more beautiful by producing landscapes you want to see

And most of all, always be truthful and daring with your art

Through the repetition in creating the work and sitting in the same position day in and day out, I had a lot of time to do what I love to do most which is observing and reflecting. Poking through the bandages with a crochet needle to reveal each strand of hair somehow became quite therapeutic. It made me see hair in a different way, embracing its texture and how it looks. Somehow made me even see the beauty in it.

I realized that I also started a chain reaction with the thought process behind my work. Having had many conversations about the body and body hair, I discovered that men can also feel the same way and have the same insecurities. I can truly say that this residency helped me gain a stronger voice and a more straightforward artistic approach. There is nothing left to say but thank you and dedicate this poem I wrote the first week in Aruba.

Life is dushi
Kadushi dushi
Everywhere you go..cactus
Laughter and joy follows after
Lovely connection, full of similarities
Caribbean spirits unified
Linked together by art at
I
Aruba, dushi tera
Shared experiences that will be locked forever in our memories