Whenever I have the opportunity to explore a new medium, I jump at it! No toes dipping into stagnant waters, swishing around to test my comfort levels - I try knowing that I am experimenting and expanding my wading pools into oceans.
Mark Making: Narrating Our Histories is an incubator opportunity developed in partnership with the Gardiner Museum and VIBE Arts for emerging visual artists to learn the complexities of clay under the mentorship of Sharon Norwood, a Jamaican born and Canadian raised interdisciplinary artist. Over the summer, Andre Lopez, Nicholas Ridiculous, Serene Chan, Talie Shalmon, and I spent 2.5 weeks of three hour intensive workshops learning a new medium while developing bonds through sharing stories and laughter. Sharon's repetitions of "slip and score," "make sure it's underglaze and not glaze," and "spray your works" will forever be ingrained in my mind, just like the clay that burrowed its way under my fingernails.
These intensive workshops were inspired by Norwood’s intuitive and experimental approach to working with clay which guided us through different hand-building techniques such as coiling, slabbing, pinching, and slip casting. After learning the fundamentals, we were each called to intuitive art making to translate our artistic practices or works that inspire us into three-dimensional clay forms, and to create markings that reflect our identities as artists.
From this exploration, I created a new digital collage and ceramic art series titled Settle in Sediment which was inspired by the rich tapestry of my Jamaican heritage to explore the profound connections between intuitive artistic expression, the cultural export of Blue Mountain coffee introduced by settlers, and the power of rooting oneself in natural elements and the land for holistic wellness.
“Settling” has diverse meanings, but I wish to highlight the references to determination, migration, and contemplation, as each component has sub\consciously informed the way I relate to my materials and community. The process of shaping clay becomes a sacred act of self-discovery in creative meditation, paying homage to Jamaica's resilient spirit forged through the trials and triumphs of the coffee trade. Rooted in nature's embrace, each piece resonates with the soothing energies of the earth, with clay serving as a reminder of the restorative power found in our environment. Gold adornments celebrate the triumphs and preciousness of becoming resilient as I embrace nature as a vital pathway to wellness and inner harmony.
Being able to connect with my roots by playing with this earthen material was very rewarding, especially being able to have an exhibition with my artist friends. :) Just one month after opening the exhibition, I now teach ceramics art classes for children and youth at City of Toronto Community Centres in North York. As an arts facilitator, I hope to share what I've learned with the next generation and continue to inspire and be inspired by the creative adventures that bring us together!