I grew up in a single parent home, and for this reason, whenever my classmates would share family experiences during recess, I would just listen. What could I say really? For as much as they discussed meals their moms made, or fun times with their siblings, the main focus of these conversations was their interaction with their dads. I had nothing to contribute in that department, so I would just listen intently with a longing in my heart. If recess was sad, the same could not be said about my quiet time at home with my jumbo crayons and sheets of paper. As soon as my crayons touched the paper, I told the chronicles of me and my dad which I could not share hours before. I drew us flying kites, swimming, doing things around the house, basically all the adventures I’d wish I would have had with him, I was able to live out in basic sketches. I did not develop a relationship with him until I was about 18 or 19 years old but I had managed to live a fantasy for almost all my life through my drawings. I realized, I could not choose my father but I can draw my own universe. For me, art offered a practical, two-dimensional solution to a real life problem.
I did not have formal art classes until my first year of high school when we were given the option of art, home economics or sewing. As interesting as the other two seemed, I decided I wanted to explore art instead. There, Mrs. Amadeyah explained the difference between the right and the left sides of the brain. She showed us basic drawing techniques like shading, dimension and how to position your pencil when you draw. There was an exercise, which I especially liked, where we had to turn a picture upside down and draw it completely from the bottom up. This was a fun exercise which she told us, because it was drawn upside down, forced us to utilize the right side of our brains. In addition to this, we learned to use charcoal and pastels, which I especially liked because we learned to work with colour. This was a great class which I wished could have been continued all throughout high school, but at that time it was only offered to first formers.
When I went to sixth form, I took advantage of most of the art courses which were available. There I developed even more drawing techniques and painting basics like watercolour and acrylic techniques. I witnessed Mrs. Michelle Perdomo’s passion for painting. She experimented with colour while ever so sweetly reminded us that as we explore the boundlessness of our creativity we need to be mindful and conserve the costly acrylics. This instilled in me the idea of the economics of creativity. I was introduced to art history and theory in a class called ‘Understanding Art’, which was a series of lectures on art and artists in Belize and the world by Yasser Musa.
These courses whetted my appetite while a fervent hunger grew. I wanted more tools and theories to create my universe. So in 2005, when I was given an opportunity to work with the Image Factory Art Foundation, I considered it a golden ticket. And sure enough it proved to be; helping them to gather information for the 10th anniversary book took me to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. While in Merida, I networked with the principal of an art university which was being opened in the city. I took the exams, which were all in Spanish and somehow was accepted to start school in August.
In the beginning, the course was extremely challenging as all the classes, save and except for English, were in Spanish, which took me six months to a year to master. I was working toward satisfying my hunger. I learned colour theory, semiotics, art theory, took some sculpture courses, learned some basic video editing with FinalCut Pro, along with some basic knowledge of photography, Photoshop and performance art. Along with this, I got the opportunity to experience a city with an average of three exhibits per week, along with countless concerts of both classical and contemporary music, theatre productions and ballet. Basically for three plus years, I lived in a city where there were several cultural productions to choose from every single week. Definitely living among one million people, but still sticking out like a sore thumb for being one of the few or the only black person for kilometres around was in itself impactful.
Certainly I now had countless new tools and theories to create my own universe. Still for some reason, I had forgotten the economics of creativity that I had learned in sixth form. While I explored the boundlessness of the world of culture in Merida, I had forgotten to conserve my own emotional universe. Consequently I opted to terminate my studies in 2008 and returned home to restructure myself. At first I had decided to abandon art entirely. However, upon realizing that it is the most natural option for me, I have dedicated 2011 entirely to art. I am once more collaborating with the Image Factory Art Foundation. I exhibited my work with Jill Burgess in March, and now I have teamed up with the Image Factory Shop to do children’s art classes for 2012.
There remains a need in me to create my own universe, and that is why I am an artist.