Artist Statement

I see my art practice as an investigative tool, as a way to engage in dialogue, a platform for thinking and a means to develop knowledge. My work has evolved from figurative and symbolic explorations in painting to a variety of modes that include drawing, video, performance, installation and public intervention projects. Therefore, the emphasis of my work does not lie in the medium, but in creating a space to explore social contexts and collective narratives. History, film, soap-operas, fairy-tales and mythology all inform my work in that they are both narrative modes that I use as well as sites of investigation. I look for the narratives inscribed in various objects and places and find ways to add to them and at times subvert them. Because I live in the Virgin Islands, a place that has changed colonial hands seven times, the longest being Denmark and the last being the United States, I am particularly interested in the colonial and neocolonial narrative and how it shapes identity, memory and reality. (return to website)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

La Vaughn Belle & Monica Marin Reimagine the Great House




The St Croix Landmarks Society is pleased to announce an exhibition by Virgin Islands artists La Vaughn Belle and Monica Marin entitled The Great House: Reimagining Power, Space and History. The show comprises of drawings, installations, performance, video and photography that seek to create a new dialogue with the Great House of the Whim Plantation Museum. The exhibition will open with a reception on Saturday, March 5, 2011 from 3pm-6pm and close with an “artist talk” on Saturday, April 16 at 3pm. The Whim Plantation Museum is located in Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

The Great House: Reimagining Power, Space and History seeks to interrogate the hierarchy of the plantation society and the narrative of the “Great House”. Commenting on the exhibit Belle says, “Typically ‘Great Houses’ function as a monument to power and permanence. Inside they are filled with the accoutrements of wealth-fine dishes, fine linen, fine furniture- all conveying the idea of cultural superiority. In this exhibit we want to transform that narrative by including other stories, both personal and historical, that are often invisible when you visit Whim.” Among Belle’s work in the exhibition will be a video that ties in the childhood story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” playing with ideas of intrusion and belonging. Other pieces are based on her research while in Denmark in 2008 and include a collection of hand drawn plates and an installation with a haunting portrait of a Danish West Indian woman. Marin will include several works that reflect on the nature of memory, and the construction of history. Marin recounts some of her earliest memories of Whim through a series of photos that reflect personal and public memory as the viewer is asked to contribute their own recollections. Another work will highlight the masquerade tradition and its cultural significance as an act of resistance. The exhibition The Great House is the first time that the St. Croix Landmarks Society has given such access and support to artists to critically engage the museum. The exhibit is expected to be thoughtful, provoking and exciting, as many of the pieces will actively engage the viewer as participants.

Both Belle and Marin have exhibited throughout the Caribbean, the US and Europe. This exhibition project is jointly supported by a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, a federal agency. For more information contact 340-772-0598.

Contact:
St. Croix Landmarks Society / Whim Plantation Museum:
Carol Wakefield or Sonia Dow 340-772-0598
Artists:
La Vaughn Belle, 340-332-6236, studio@lavaughnbelle.com, www.lavaughnbelle.com
Monica Marin, 773-354-2710, mmarin33@yahoo.com

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