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, June 30, 2011

Paradise Lost



Monica Marin curated this show which originally was at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts. It travelled to Puerto Rico this summer. Check out the opening reception here. I showed for the first time a video piece, "Moving Pictures" which investigated Hollywood films shot in the Virgin Islands. The image above is from "The Island of Dr. Moreau".


"Paradise Lost", an art show that commemorates US Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day opens on May 27, 2011, in Caguas, Puerto Rico after being on view last fall at Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Curated by Monica Marin, the exhibition features artists from the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Denmark. The artists, through their art, raise issues of the 'paradoxes of paradise' and the precarious balance between preserving the natural environment and economic development.


"Paradise Lost" presents photos, installations, videos, documentary, artist's book, mixed media and multimedia art works by nine artists: Virgin Islanders LaVaughn Belle, Janet Cook-Rutnik, Monica Marin, and William Stelzer; Danish artist Nanna Debois Buhl; and Puerto Rican artists Luis Carle, Jason Mena, Carmen Mojica, Josué Pellot, and Rafael Trellis.


Johanna Bermúdez-Ruiz's short film documents the ongoing resistance movement against the U.S. Navy's bombing practices on the island of Vieques.

Luis Carle digitally creates surreal scenarios by combining different photographs from his travels to create his ominous landscapes.

Jason Mena's conceptual work also uses words to remind us that looks can be deceiving, and to reveal the complexities and contradictions of urban life.

Rafael Trelles projects the words a "Monument to Failure" over the industrial ruins of the old Peñuelas petrochemical complex (CORCO) in Puerto Rico, to show how the industrial remains serve as a symbol of the islands' present economic crisis.

Carmen Mojica presents an array of photos that show that emptiness and silence unite at the same time that they divide.

La Vaughn Belle's video investigates Hollywood movies that have been filmed in the US Virgin Islands by re-editing them to examine and reconstruct the narrative of a virgin paradise.

Nanna Dubois Buhl's illustrations and writing document the importance of various native plants used by St. Croix's Maroons, or escaped slaves, in their acts of resistance while offering an insightful and poetic impression of colonialism in the islands.

Janet Cook Rutnik's multi-media work attempts to highlight the paradox found in paradise in a three-dimensional installation and a video, entitled, "Moments in Time".

Finally, William Stelzer's interactive piece consists of a hypothetically proposed US Virgin Islands' advertisement campaign in which the viewer is challenged to look deeper and appreciate the islands for their sublime and spiritual relevance.


Every year in October, the US Virgin Islands celebrate the VI-PR Friendship Day and the contribution of the large Puerto Rican population living on the Virgin Islands.

"Paradise Lost" opens at ÁREA in Caguas, Puerto Rico on Friday, May 27, at 7 PM, followed by an artists' talk at 8:30 PM. It will be on view until June 30, 2011.