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DANCING WITH FRIENDS

“Dancing with Friends” embraces the kinetic joy of parades - colorful streams of moving bodies celebrating themselves in community with others, claiming and proclaiming their identities and values. These large-scale banners feature silhouettes of me and my friends painted onto sheer cloths, intertwined, embroidered, beaded, and stitched together. They hang loosely in the space, moving on the currents of circulating viewers, inviting them to join the dance. Each banner is worked by hand pushing into the intimacy and tenderness that cloth allows, in contrast and/or conversation with the boldness of parade.

“Dancing with Friends” originated during the pandemic, sparked by two main desires of mine. The first was to be reunited with my female friends in celebration, once the fog of Covid ultimately lifted. Their beautiful images appear in these works. The second was in response to the social transformations demanded by the uprisings after George Floyd’s murder. Many calls for empathy were answered through attempts to connect to shared and recognizable grief - across cultures and communities - and understandably so. Through “Dancing with Friends” I hope to offer shared joy as an equally powerful tool for building empathy with each other. I believe that when we see each other dancing, celebrating, and expressing joy, we are inviting togetherness and recognition of our shared humanity.

This project, and my work generally, is a celebration of self – the individual self that connects to history, community, relationship, and lived experience. All of that compiles into a multifaceted and nuanced identity that is aligned with others yet unique, worthy of affirmation in its wholeness. Dancing with Friends invites that affirmation through joy and community, believing that in dancing together we can find a unique space to unfurl our individuality.

VERSION

While my Jamaican lineage is fact, my relationship to the island and my ancestry has felt very distant at times. My physical body represents a continued familial story, but my personal connection sometimes feels tenuous. In my evolving body of work called “Version”, I confront these feelings of loss by exploring material permeability, unraveling, and negative space. Simultaneously, I anchor myself in my own Jamaican story by using motifs and materials that evoke strong sense memory – foods (sorrel/hibiscus blossom that I’ve used for painting and dying cloth, tamarind seeds left over from candies), traditional Jamaican madras fabric (its pattern referenced throughout), and the decorative ironwork swirls from my family’s home in Mandeville.

The collection title, “Version”, recalls the precursor name for Dub music; it is distinguished by the absence of the vocalist, leaving room for experimentation and evolution in that empty space, eventually becoming a new song of its own.

SHELL PARADE

This series of handmade textile banners is inspired by the visual and emotional language of parades, exploring social and personal ideals and desires. By transforming signage meant for public display into cloth, I pull it into a context of intimacy and individual meaning. Then by hanging a sign in my home, I am speaking to myself about myself; both asserting and claiming my values, my ideals; shaping and being shaped by my own hope.

PEOPLE AND PLACES

These works are acts of personal reconstruction, altars to sweetness preservation, prayers for abundance and divine guidance. I often combine embroidered images of myself and loved ones; transcribed text from my journals; and recycled cloths, in arrangements drawn from traditional quilting motifs.

TEXTILE ASSEMBLAGES

Textile assemblages are created from the leftovers of other projects. These scraps of works long-labored over with deep intention help me recalibrate to daily thoughts, feelings, gestures. They are small playgrounds where I experiment with color, material, technique, and composition. In reconstituting bits from eras of my life into new forms, I look at myself through different lenses and shape new interpretations of my choices, missteps, and pivots.