Victor Davson, Jhandi Flag #5, 2017
June 17, 2017 - October 26, 2017
Kwesi Abbensetts, Stanley Greaves, Donald Locke, Mason Richards, Damali Abrams, Carl Hazlewood, Andrew Lyght, Karran Sahadeo, Khadija Benn, Dominque Hunter, Suchitra Mattai, Keisha Scarville, Victor Davson, Michael C. Lam, Christie Neptune, and Arlington Weithers.
Grace Aneiza Ali
Migration is perhaps the defining movement of our time — for both the ones who leave and the ones left behind. Liminal Space brings together artists of Guyanese heritage, who via photography, painting, sculpture, installation, video, textile and mixed-media, bear witness to what drives one from their homeland as well as what keeps one psychically tethered to it. “Liminal” from the Latin word limens means "threshold”— a place of transition, waiting, and unknowing. In tandem, the artworks in Liminal Space engage hard truths of a country defined by constant departure and deemed “a disappearing nation.” Yet, the works offer restorative narratives of why this homeland is loved. Etched out in the artists’ visual narratives are tensions conjured up when one floats in liminal space — the land lived in and the land left behind.
Today, Guyana has a population of 750,000 and over one million living in its diaspora — in other words, more of its citizens reside outside of its borders. After gaining independence from the British in 1966, the young nation would see the beginnings of an exodus of its citizens migrating to the United States as they sought reprieve from political conflict, racially-divisive violence, and poverty. New York City, where Guyanese immigrants are the 5th largest foreign-born population, is affectionately known as “Little Guyana”— home to the most significant Guyanese community in the diaspora. Most of the Guyanese-American artists featured in the exhibition live and work in the Tri-State Area, a reflection of the region’s prominent Guyanese community.
Liminal Space speaks to the broader emergence of the Caribbean diaspora in global metropolises. While these artists narrate experiences specific to the Guyanese diaspora, they simultaneously unpack the act of migration as a constant site of engagement and what it means to be an immigrant in our 21st century world.
MEET THE CURATOR
GRACE ANEIZA ALI (b. Guyana, 1981) is an independent curator, faculty member in the Department of Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and Editorial Director of OF NOTE — an award-winning online magazine on art and activism. Her essays on contemporary art and photography have been published in Nueva Luz Journal, Small Axe Journal, and Transition Magazine among others. She is a Fulbright Fellow, World Economic Forum ‘Global Shaper’ and an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellow. She received an MA in Africana Studies from New York University and a BA in English Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park.
MEET THE ARTISTS
KWESI ABBENSETTS (b. Guyana, 1976) is a New York-based photography/visual artist who hails from the Corentyne Coast of Guyana. He moved to the United States in 1995. He is a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Photography. Abbensetts’ work has been included in Reginald F. Lewis Museum, MD; African & African-Caribbean Design Diaspora Festival, London; Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, NJ; Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, NY; and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, NY.
DAMALI ABRAMS (b. United States, 1979) is an American-born artist whose parents migrated from Guyana to New York City. She uses collage, video installation, and performance to explore Black Utopia through the lenses of Afrofuturism and Afro-Caribbean syncretic religions. She places folklore and contemporary popular culture in dialogue with one another to create a site of liberation, rejecting tragedy as the dominant narrative of the Black experience. Abrams earned a BA at NYU, a MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and recently completed the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. She’s had fellowships at A.I.R. Gallery in New York and apexart in Seoul, South Korea. She has been an artist-in-residence at Fresh Milk (Barbados), Groundation Grenada, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, The Center for Book Arts, and LMCC on Governors Island.
KHADIJA BENN (b. Canada, 1986) grew up in the bauxite mining town of Linden, Guyana and later settled in the capital city Georgetown. Her portrait and documentary photography practice focuses on the diversity of Guyanese people, places, and cultural experiences. Benn is a founding member of Caribbean Women Photographers in Guyana. She holds a BA in Geography from the University of Guyana, and a MA in Geoinformatics from the University of the West Indies. She also works as a cartographer and spatial analyst in the areas of community development and disaster risk management. Her work has been exhibited at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, NJ and featured in ARC Magazine and Transition Magazine.
VICTOR DAVSON (b. British Guiana, 1948) is a practicing artist and the founder of Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, New Jersey. He immigrated to the United States in 1973. His art is included in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba; National Collection of Fine Arts, Guyana; Newark Museum, NJ; and Morris Museum, NJ, among others. Davson has been honored by Rush Philanthropic Foundation, the Newark Arts Council, and the Prudential Foundation, among others, for his work as a visual artist and his leadership in the arts. His work is heavily influenced by the anti-colonial politics of the Caribbean, and the intellectual powerhouses of that period like Martin Carter, Frantz Fanon, and Walter Rodney. Since 1996, his series of paintings and drawings are an attempt to negotiate the roots of identity in a terrain of loss and desire.
STANLEY GREAVES (b. British Guiana, 1934) studied art in Guyana with Edward Burrowes in the Working Peoples' Art Class (1948–61) and from 1963 to 1968 attended University of Newcastle-upon- Tyne in the United Kingdom. He left Guyana in 1987 for Barbados to teach sculpture and painting. In 2008, he left for the United States and now resides in North Carolina where he continues to work and exhibit. He was awarded the Guyana national honor of the Golden Arrow of Achievement in 1975. He has represented Guyana twice at the São Paulo Biennial and once at the Medellin Bienniale in Colombia. His work has been exhibited at the Fayetteville Museum of Art, NC; Fayetteville State University, NC; Claflin University, SC; the OAS, Washington, D.C.; and Castellani House in Guyana. In 2014, he was presented with the Award for a Lifetime Achievement in Art by the Ministry of Culture of Guyana.
CARL HAZLEWOOD (b. 1950, British Guiana) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He is a co-founder of Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, NJ. Recently, he was a MacDowell Fellow and an artist-in-resident at Yaddo. He has lectured in Art History at New Jersey City University and has been a visiting critic at various institutions. He is an associate editor for Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and The Arts Journal. His writing has appeared in Flash Art International, ART PAPERS Magazine, and NY Arts Magazine among others. Collections include: The Francis J. Greenburger Collection, NY; Ogden Museum of Southern Art, LA; Museu Brasileiro da Escultura, São Paulo, Brazil; The Schomburg Center Collections, NY; Johnson and Johnson, Inc. NJ; and National Collection of Fine Arts, Guyana.
DOMINQUE HUNTER (b. Guyana, 1987) is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Guyana. Her artistic practice critiques the (non)-representation of Black female bodies in art history and stereotypical portrayals in contemporary print media. Her recent work has expanded to include strategies for coping with the weight of those impositions by examining the value of self-care practices. Hunter has exhibited within the Caribbean and the United States. She has been an artist-in-residence with Caribbean Linked IV and the Vermont Studio Center where she was awarded the Reed Foundation Fellowship. Hunter is the Sunday Arts columnist for the Guyana Chronicle.
MICHAEL LAM (b. Guyana, 1973) is a layout artist and photographer. Born and raised in Guyana, Lam is of mixed Portuguese and Chinese heritage. He holds a degree in Biology from the University of Guyana, was the Bronze medalist in the 2012 Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition, and shortlisted in the 2014 edition of the same. His work has been featured in the tourism pages of local media and calendars, and his photography has graced the covers of l local magazines Ku’wai and ClassiMag, as well as the regional travel magazine Caribbean Beat. His photography has been exhibited at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, NJ and featured in Hyperallergic.
DONALD LOCKE (b. British Guiana 1930 - 2010) lived, studied, and worked in Guyana, United Kingdom, and the United States. In Guyana in the 1960s, he was part of the creative elite who shaped its artistic production after the country’s independence. Locke spent most of the 1970s in London, and is known in the UK for a series of paintings and sculptures entitled The Plantation Series, (1972-74). Locke moved to the United States in 1979 when he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Sculpture, and was the recipient of the Biennial Purchase Award from the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1986. He is represented in varied collections including the Tate Gallery, London; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, GA; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
ANDREW LYGHT (b. British Guiana, 1949) lives and works in Kingston, New York. While living and working for decades in various cultural contexts s such as Guyana, Canada, and the United States, Lyght creates a wide range of works that analyze the structural properties of painting and reanimate pictorial space as an open system. He is best known for his flexible and volumetric forms, vibrant paintings, and abstract linear drawings. Awards for his work include the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award, Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea di Firenze, Florence, Italy; and The American Academy in Rome, Visiting Artist/ Scholar Program, Rome, Italy. Collections include: Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, France; The Studio Museum of Harlem, NY; and The World Bank Art Program, Washington, D.C., among others.
SUCHITRA MATTAI (b. Guyana, 1973) first migrated to Canada with her family in 1976 before coming to the United States. She is an artist who currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado. She received her MFA in Painting and Drawing and MA in South Asian Art from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She has exhibited her work in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, Berlin, and Wales. In 2016, she completed a residency at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Denver. Her paintings have appeared in the juried exhibition-in-print New American Paintings (Open Studios Press, 2009).
CHRISTIE NEPTUNE (b. United States, 1986) is an interdisciplinary artist working across film, photography, mixed media, and performance. Her family migrated from Guyana to New York. Neptune holds a BA from Fordham University. Her films and photography have been included in shows at the Hamiltonian Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Washington College, MD; Queens Museum of Art, NY; A.I.R. Gallery, NY; Yeelen Gallery, FL; and Rutgers, Institute for Women and Art, NJ. She has been featured in publications including VICE Creator’s Project and J juxtapoz Magazine. Neptune is a 2015 participant of More Art’s Engaging Artists Residency and a cohort of the Hamiltonian Gallery Fellowship Program. She is a recipient of the 2017 Bronx Museum of Arts Artist in Marketplace (AIM) and the 2017/2018 Smack Mellon Studio Fellowships.
MASON RICHARDS (b. Guyana, 1974) is a filmmaker who currently lives and works in Los Angeles. As the age of seven, he and his family migrated from Guyana to Brooklyn, New York. He received his MFA in Film Directing at California Institute of the Arts. Richards has written and directed several narratives short films including the award-winning The Seawall, which has screened internationally at film festivals including the 36th Havana International Film Festival in Cuba and 64th Festival de Cannes in France. Richards is a Directing Fellow Alum of Film I independent's Project: Involve and the recipient of the Sony Pictures Diversity Fellowship. He is currently working on the feature-length version of The Seawall.
KARRAN SAHADEO (b. Guyana, 1986) is a multimedia artist who uses photography and video to explore our relationship and reliance on using technology as a memory aid. His work has been exhibited internationally in United States, United Kingdom, and Georgetown, Guyana. While in Guyana, Sahadeo placed third in the biennial Guyana Visual Arts Competition & Exhibition (2014), coordinated and moderated The Photography Sessions lectures at Moray House Trust (2015), and curated the first independent photography exhibition, VISIONS (2016). His most recent group exhibitions are Un | Fixed Homeland at Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, NJ and Manifesting Monuments at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
KEISHA SCARVILLE (b. United States 1975) was born to Guyanese parents who emigrated to the United States in the 1960s. She is a photo and mixed media artist based in Brooklyn, New York and adjunct faculty at the International Center of Photography. Her work has been exhibited at numerous New York galleries i including the Studio Museum of Harlem, Rush Arts Gallery, BRIC, Museum of Contemporary Diasporan Arts, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, as well as at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, NJ. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Hyperallgeric, VICE, and Transition Magazine, among others. Scarville has been awarded various residencies, most recently at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, and Baxter Street CCNY.
ARLINGTON WEITHERS (b. British Guiana, 1948) is a New-York based multi-disciplinary artist working in painting, photography, and digital printmaking. Weithers received his BFA with Honors from Brooklyn College and is a Skowhegan alumnus. He is also the recipient of the 1973 Skowhegan Faculty “Best Painter” Purchase Award. Exhibition highlights include: Kenkeleba Gallery, NY; The New York State Museum, NY; The Ogden Museum, LA; Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Schomburg Center, NY; London Guildhall University, London; The Huntsville Museum of Art, AL; The Anchorage Museum of History & Art, AK. Collections include: The Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Delaware Museum of Art, DE; The Ogden Museum, LA; and The Anchorage Museum, AK.