Nona Faustine: An Artist’s Duty. . .

I asked Ms. Faustine what role she thinks an artist has in society – especially in these tense times.

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Good question, it’s one that we are still discussing, each generation has to answer that for themselves. I’m from the Nina Simone school of thought she put it so eloquently and beautifully. “An artist’s duty to which as far as I’m concerned is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptures, poets, musicians; it’s their choice but I choose to reflect the times and the situations in which I find myself. That to me is my duty, at this crucial time in our lives when everything is so desperate when everyday is a matter of survival. I don’t think you can help but be involved… I don’t think you have a choice how can you be an artist and not reflect the times. That to me is the definition of an artist.”

Nona Faustine: Racism is . . .

Nona Faustine marches up the steps of the Tweed Courthouse, built on top of what was part of the African Burial Ground, in New York City; this photo is titled Over My Dead Body.

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Racism in the United States is a cancer that has infected every segment of our culture and society for too long. Institutionally and structurally operating on all levels and highly adaptive, you see its devastating effects on a daily basis. To be fully proficient it demands that a large segment of our society denies its existence and denies, at least publicly, that they are indoctrinated, that the disparities and inequalities we see in our society are simply due to some lack of accountability, ambition, and inferiority, in one’s self or group of people that it affects. You wonder if there will ever come a day in this country when racism won’t be so prevalent. What is most distressing is the thought of how one’s life as an African American with Native blood would be different if racism didn’t exist.

 

Talwst: an Artist’s Truth

In this final feature post of the artist TALWST he shares what he thinks an artist has a responsibility to create with his or her work. (This piece is titled The Rape.)

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“I believe an artist should communicate their truth. Not all art needs to be political it just  needs to be an honest expression of the person making it.”

Talwst: Racism is . . .

As a Canadian living in the United States, TALWST reflects on racism in the U.S.

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The word I would use is systemic. As a Canadian aware of my country’s own issues with race. There are many similarities but also many differences that I’m only now able to investigate in the 4 months I’ve been living here.

Talwst: Histories in Miniature

Curtis “TALWST” Santiago is a Canadian-Trinidadian artist working in mixed media and performance practices. He is currently engaged in his ongoing and prolific infinity series of miniature dioramas in reclaimed ring boxes. An exploration across cultures and time periods, through these works Talwst aims to draw attention to absent or misinterpreted narratives, suggest the non-linear complexities of history, and explore relationships between cultures. He has produced a number of sub series in this format that focus on themes, such as inserting marginalized narratives into art history and drawing parallels between disparate cultural histories.

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These works draw parallels between narratives of global marginalization, violence and unrest across time and combine them with references to the contemporary digital age in a manner that mediates on the atemporal human condition. Talwst began this series with his work The Execution of Mike Brown (image above) in which he appropriated the composition for Edouard Manet’s The Execution of Maximilian, scaling it down, putting it in a box, and relocating it in the United States where we see a portrait of a black man being shot by multiple police officers. Talwst quickly continued with this series creating a number of strong works including The Rape, Tell them to Stop! Tell them to Stop!, and Por Que? which is currently on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

These works challenge our visual culture by cutting and mixing moments in history, global cultures, and the digital word. They both propose alternative narratives and question our assumptions. The inclusion of references to digital culture, our obsession with social media and photography weaves in another narrative commenting on our current, filtered, view of the world.

The small scale of Talwst’s works involve an unusual physical engagement in both creating and viewing the work. The dioramas are made in reclaimed ring boxes: cases that hold, protect, and transport precious objects, which are passed down through generations. These are unusually mobile artworks; between exhibitions they close and travel with the artist. The artist’s interest in storytelling, in particular narratives from African and Caribbean culture, informs the tension
between the powerful content and miniature scale, which acts as a reflection of minimized and marginalized histories’ challenge in integrating into predominant, western history. The lack of an immersive experience in viewing these works, as
well as their overt objecthood, suggests the distance between dominant culture and the stories they hold.

A former apprentice of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Talwst’s work has been exhibited in Canada including recent exhibitions at The Art Gallery of Mississauga, convenience gallery, Angell Gallery, and internationally at Fuse Gallery, Studio Museum Harlem, New York and Galerie White Projects, Paris.

Frohawk Two Feathers: The Art of Storytelling

FROHAWK TWO FEATHERS is an artist, historian, and storyteller, so what stories from the past does he want us to know?

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Besides talking about race, class, culture, gender, and creating a dialogue where all parties regardless of qualifiers can have an honest conversation. In addition to that, I want to tell a new story that is all together ancient that speaks to the laymen and women as well as the experts. I feel it necessary to keep one foot in academia and one in the street. Everyone might not get it but everyone is invited.

Frohawk Two Feathers: Racism in the U.S. is . . .

I asked FROHAWK TWO FEATHERS to explain or describe racism in the United States . . .Frohawk Two Feathers

How much time do you have really? Ha! Well, racism in the United States is endemic as it arrived with the first European to step of a ship unto shore. It has endured throughout all the wars and nation-building and has spread to the north, south, and west. It is an insidious disease that it carried in the heart of the descendants of the original colonists and adopted by the immigrants that followed them. In the cases where it has been purged from the hearts of the individual, its parasitic tendrils have attached itself to the very institution that is the nation and has largely become policy. It is something we all are entirely aware of and naïve to at the same time. It is a cancer that can be cured only if the host is willing to die. We all endure however in spite of it.

Frohawk Two Feathers on History and His Participation in Race and Revolution

RACE AND REVOLUTION is an art show that looks at the attitudes of the colonists that shaped the United States. Artist FROHAWK TWO FEATHERS discusses why chose to participate in the show.

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I wanted to participate in this show because it was coming from a place after my own heart. Also, I was impressed by the knowledge and passion of the curator (Katie Fuller) and the location of the inaugural exhibition, Governor’s Island. Having just wrapped up a chapter (3 years) of my historical narrative in New York I wanted to make a piece that kicks off the next chapter of that story and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. I’m also pleased to exhibit alongside some wonderful artists with practices not unlike my own and show work that is in stark contrast to the “wallpaper du jour” that is ubiquitous these days.