It becomes clearer every day that America is one big melting pot. The reasons people immigrate here are vast and varied, but the one thing that is clear of those who begin another life in the U.S. is that it will never be like their first home. They’ve been thrown “into the mix” per se.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft opened its newest exhibition Into the Mix in the beginning of February. This exhibit explores the ways Caribbean artists search to find what is culturally authentic. This is also the first exhibit by Aldy Milliken, the new Executive Director & Chief Curator for KMAC. “Into the Mix, will be an excellent example of the return to Materiality for 10 artists that have a relationship to the Caribbean. By default, these artists are engaging in a debate of cultural stereotypes because they are often defined by a region instead of the large human issues of their practice such as politics, gender inequality, and cultural identity,” Milliken said.
The 10 artists include: Janine Antoni, Christopher Cozier, Blue Curry, Carlos Gamez de Francisco, Marlon Griffith, Sofia Maldonado, Wendy Nanan, Ebony G. Patterson, Sheena Rose, and Heino Schmid, with accompanying text and daily blog entries by arts and cultural writer, Nicholas Laughlin.
This debut exhibit by Milliken is on trend with the wave of exhibits around the country that are expanding awareness of work from the Caribbean in today’s contemporary art world. Beginning In 2009, the most prestigious art show in the Americas, Art Basel Miami decided it was time to address why Caribbean artists, who make up a large portion of the population in Miami and Brooklyn are rarely given the opportunity to meet and share ideas about their work. The exhibition, “The Global Caribbean – Focus on the Caribbean Contemporary Art Landscape,” was initiated in Miami by Culturesfrance, the French Government agency for international cultural exchanges. Several of the artists that are featured in KMAC’s exhibit were also a part of The Global Caribbean shows.
Louisville is no Miami, but a few of the artists travelled to Louisville to spend the week prior to the opening preparing their work. They also worked with local artists and students to create collaborative pieces for the exhibit, and participated in panel discussions. If artists out in the community weren’t enough to garner attention for this show, Puerto Rican artist Sofia Maldonado painted her street art installation on the first floor windows of the Museum. She described her piece as “the storm. In Puerto Rico we’re used to tropical storms. There is a peace that comes after the rain and wind and it creates unity among the people there.”
Sofia Maldonado working on her street art installation at KMAC
Artist Blue Curry originally from the Bahamas, works with sculptural assemblage, installation and video. He considers his work somewhere between cultural artifact, tourist souvenir and contemporary art piece. For his Untitled (Tyres) piece he said, “The tread on the tire has a certain affinity with the snake skin, when you look at the snake skin up close. If you ask me ‘What does this piece mean?’ I don’t really have a direct meaning to give you or for each of these pieces but they sort of work with this idea of getting you to think about what you’re looking at and to think about it in a different way.”
Sheena Rose’s work can only be fully appreciated in person because stills of video just don’t translate the full effect of her creative animation. She uses hand drawn animation and combines it with photographs, transfers and comic strips creating a moving art picture. “Town to Town” is about the busy urban life style and experience of Bridgetown, Barbados (where she is from) and Cape Town, South Africa where she spent three months in an art residency. In her statement she says, “I want the viewers to get the chance to see my interpretation between these two towns. I am interested in the daily lives of persons and the idea of the space.”
Aldy Milliken is taking KMAC into the contemporary art discussion with this show. Into the Mix will be on display from February 4th through April 14th. KMAC is located at 715 West Main Street.
For more pics visit the new visual arts reader for the Bluegrass Region at artintheblue.com
Feature photo: Marlon Griffith, Cloud installation