Friday, February 4, 2011

Grand Bahama resident displays art work at Popopstudios Center

By THEA RUTHERFORD

Guardian National Correspondent

The process spanned roughly eight months. But the product consisted of images based on musings with much older birthdates for art students Khia Poitier, Steffon Grant and Jeffrey Meris.

The trio exhibit in "Process Product", the culminating show of their Junior Residency at Popop-studios Center for the Visual Arts. Popopstudios awarded the prize to the College of The Bahamas art majors in conjunction with the D'Aguilar Art Foundation early last summer.

The show officially opened with a reception on January 14 at Popopstudios.

"I thought it was so humbling," said Grant of receiving the residency prize.

"It's a blessing and I think it might be the product of something, but the whole thing at the end of the day is going to continue to be a process."

A mixed bag of reflections, "Process Product" hovers on themes of self discovery, religion and the male figure within society . The artists use a variety of media both on and off the canvas to explore their topics.

Khia Poitier's portion of the group show came together in a series of small, interconnected paintings and a video. Viewers could watch the artist, enveloped in the "cocoon" she crocheted, as she hopped throughout scenes of her daily life. The multi-colored cocoon lay inches away from the video screen, allowing a glimpse into her process. Poitier's rhythmic guitar plucking provided the soundtrack for the entire experience.

"I was thinking about college," said Poitier, who is in the midst of completing applications to Bachelor's degree art programs. "I was thinking about choosing a major ... and I was getting really stressed out about it because you feel like you haven't lived a quarter of your life yet and yet you have to make all of these big decisions about who you ultimately have to be and it feels so permanent at the time."

The cocoon posed an hypothetical alternative route for the young artist.

"What if you could be enveloped in some kind of cocoon where you still have a chance to grow up and try things and experiment before you make a decision," she said. "I was just kind of playing with that idea a little bit."

Where Poitier's cocoon swaddled, Jeffrey Meris' paintings of devotees dressed in gleaming white at a moonlit ceremony explored other worlds. The series examines the voodoo religion.

"I went and I analyzed my situation, being of Haitian ancestry, and the quintessential religion that people attach to Haitians, being voodoo, and really analyzing the ins and outs of it," he said.

Steffon Grant's conversation about being male in Bahamian society is as broad as it is personal. The artist comments on how males interact with each other through, among other works, his depiction of an ideal, two young boys holding hands in a mixed media painting. Grant calls his series "Homosensual."

"We have males sharing a bond but because of our homophobia we don't say that 'okay man, I love you.' So we kind of encourage each other in our wrongdoing," he said. "We kind of encourage people to continue down the wrong track so to speak and we think that these kinds of things make us a man as men."

Grant said that the inspiration for his graphic-like paintings came from what he observed along the city's streets.

"I took my camera and I walked around the streets of Nassau taking pictures of what could possibly be something that everybody could see, but they're not looking at."

Poitier, Meris and Grant expressed gratitude for an experience that included art-based trips to New York City and Abaco.

"The residency on the whole was completely life-changing, honestly," said Poitier. "I'm very, very grateful and it's made me believe that actually I can pursue art now."

Said Grant, "I've been every night just thanking God for the D'Aguilars, and for Popop, and for everyone here who has worked with us."

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