How do we construct our realities? It’s something you may think about when you walk through the ceramic exhibition by 2011 Junior Residents at Popopstudios International Center for Visual Arts.
In “Habitat”, opening this Thursday February 16 from 6-9 p.m., College of The Bahamas students Alistair Stevenson and Keva Fawkes use their ceramic forms to explore the ways human nature collides with surrounding landscapes to form subjective realities.
For Stevenson, whose organic shapes take somewhat monstrous forms to conjure up macabre settings, “Habitat” is a chance to explore the exploitation of nature by man.
“Habitat relates to the fact that the earth is our habitat, where we exist – it’s what we make and don’t make for ourselves out of what’s there, whether or not we think about it,” he says. “For me it’s expressing the activity within that habitat.”
Though Fawkes’ ceramic pieces draw instead from elegant organic forms, she too explores the appropriation of nature by human beings to construct their identities.
“My theme for this show is loneliness. With the name of the show being ‘Habitat’, I related it to that,” she explains. “I think that people are lonely and sometimes being lonely is subjective so it’s a habitat you create for yourself. It’s your choice almost, to be lonely. It’s a catch-22 situation.”
While Stevenson began to streamline his process after a change of setting – the junior residents visited both New York City and Schooner Bay, Abaco, over the summer – Keva found time to work through her ideas in her home of Inagua, both gleaning insight into ‘habitats’ human beings carve out for themselves.
For both artists, such sentiment is expressed not only in the final product but in the process itself, picking and choosing certain signifiers in nature to build their niche, the process itself becoming a process of isolation rather than creation.
“I guess in a sense with ceramicists, we have so many technical skills and ideas that we have to work out and real logical things that can go wrong if we don’t do things a certain way that we get so involved in technicalities and we don’t experiment with the creative side of our work,” says Stevenson.
“The idea is there, but it’s not so easily expressed. I wanted to express sometimes what we do is graft nature, and we use it, and sometimes we abuse it to some extent, but we forget about it. So the idea in my work is to suggest that nature is reclaiming that which was once his or hers.”
Yet overall, the pair say being two of the four Junior Resident Artists at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts over the summer of 2011 was an experience that has significantly helped shape their artistic process. Though they began with just inspiration over the summer, their careful manifestations are evident in their work, their process-oriented approach a testament to the complexity of ideas and themes they’ve been grappling with for some time.
“I would produce some work, but initially I was unsure where I wanted to go with the work,” says Stevenson. “After the trips, I was more than happy to just pursue the ideas I had. I had to stop making excuses not to do it and try it out anyway, so I feel more confident about my work now and I’m much more willing to experiment and step out of the box. It just goes to show you how exposure does you so much justice.”
“My process has been mostly idea-oriented in the beginning and I try to work on too many of them at a time,” adds Fawkes. “Over the summer I was able to hang around artists here and pick their brains about how they work and why they work. It helped me figure out what my process is so now it’s easier to pick two or three things, narrow it down and run with it.”
Indeed the pair is thankful for the opportunity to glean inspiration from the artists and the creative setting at Popopstudios, which has allowed them to grow and expand their own creative landscapes.
“I think what’s most important about the residency is the experience,” says Fawkes. “It’s the fact that you get to be around so many people who have been there and done that and can guide you, because you learn things from them and they learn things from you.”
“Habitat” opens at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts on Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. and will be on display into March. For more information, call 322-7834, email email@example.com or check out www.popopstudios.com.
By Sonia Farmer,
The Nassau Guardian
Arts & Culture
Published: Saturday February 11, 2012