Art
JM | Nov 29, 2022

RUBIS InPulse ‘Staying Afloat’ art exhibition reframes view of nature

/ Our Today

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Following up on the successful and immersive ‘The Fabric of Being” interactive art installation at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts earlier this month, the RUBiS InPulse Art Project upped the ante with an expansive Collaborative Art Installation.

The one-day exhibition took place on campus last Friday (November 25).

Led by French artist Stéphane Thidet, on his first trip to Jamaica, the one-day exhibition titled ‘Staying Afloat’ marked the culmination of hands-on student workshops. 

DISCUSSION ON IDENTITY WITHIN THE CARIBBEAN

Thidet shared some of his techniques of carving into and painting leather with students while discussing identity within the Caribbean. 

Unconfined to the Edna school classrooms, the young artists and their guide embarked on a journey to the shore to collect driftwood from Bull Bay in St Thomas.  

“We selected interesting pieces of wood that, upon reflection, echoed human scale and were biomorphic. These fragments of the landscapes were already transformed by nature, but we wanted to use them in a way that unified us as a collective. We transported each piece from the beach and decided to create an implied sea level onto the objects using the art school benches,” Thidet explained. 

“The students learned a new way of working, to create something new from something else.”

Reginald (Redji) Senatu, artist

Based in Paris, Thidet’s work centres around the ideas of the transience of the elements and of using objects as a source of both resistance and reconstruction. His art features in many public and private collections. His work has been exhibited in La Maison Rouge, the Palais de Tokyo and in numerous modern art galleries internationally and now in Jamaica.

Fellow artist and collaborator Reginald (Redji) Senatus, visiting from Haiti, expressed his approval of the final product. 

“The students learned a new way of working, to create something new from something else”, he said.

Camille Chedda, artist and RUBiS InPulse Art project coordinator, concurred, adding: “By conceptualising from scratch, the students learned to transform an object to bring new meaning.”

French artist Stéphane Thidet (left) examines salvaged driftwood with RUBiS InPulse Art Project Scholarship recipient Sheldon Green in preparation for the Staying Afloat art exhibition staged at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts on November 25.

Redji grew up in a district of downtown Port-au-Prince, near the artists and cabinet makers of the Grand-Rue. In 2010, he joined Atis Rezistans, a community of artists specialising in salvage sculpture, reclaiming discarded objects for art.  Since 2011, Redji has participated in several editions of the Ghetto Biennale of Port-au-Prince.

Building on themes of reconstruction and reclaiming, the student cohort collaborated with Thidet, Senatus and Chedda to create the exhibition which, as Thidet added, “drew allusions to Jamaica’s current situation in the context of migration, climate change, and the histories embedded in the Caribbean sea”.

Said Thidet: “Each sculpture also demonstrates how humans can accomplish the seemingly impossible. If we cannot swim, we can fly.  Each object has a fundamental connection with the others in that they are all struggling to stay afloat.”

22 STUDENTS RECEIVED FULL SCHOLARSHIPS OVER COURSE OF PROGRAMME

In his parting message to the student, Thidet encouraged the young artists to approach new projects with simplicity, improvise and collectively realise new artistic possibilities.

RUBiS InPulse Art Project scholarship beneficiaries Demar Brackenridge and Sheldon Green were joined by Chad Bennett, Jordan Harrison, Adriel Irwin, Damali Johnson, Ryan McDonald and Junior Robinson for the workshop and exhibition.

As the RUBiS InPulse programme coordinator, Chedda has guided several students from the first workshops at Dunoon High School to the COVID-relocated workshops at the RUBiS Water Lane Service Station to ‘Edna’ with approximately 22 students receiving full scholarships over the course of the programme.

Images of the exhibition pieces are available on Instagram @inpulseartproject.

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