The 10 international artists being represented by ARC and NLS at (e)merge are James Cooper (Bermuda), Stephanie Cormier (Canada), Ian Deleon (Cuba/Brazil), Nadia Huggins(St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Leasho Johnson (Jamaica), Becca Kallem (Washington, DC), Mark King (Barbados), Anabel Vasquez Rodriguez (Puerto Rico), Oneika Russell (Jamaica), Storm Saulter (Jamaica).
The (e)merge art fair, being staged from Ocobter 2 – 5, connects emerging-art professionals from around the globe with collectors, curators and cultural decision makers in Washington, DC. The GALLERY PLATFORM features participating galleries in hotel rooms and other spaces on designated floors. The ARTIST PLATFORM features a vetted selection of works by independent artists throughout the hotel's public areas and grounds. (e)merge's two exhibition platforms inspire a new echelon of art collectors and provide curatorial access to the latest movements in emerging art
International art fairs, such as (e)merge, VOLTA NY, Art Basel and Frieze, though almost unknown and untapped in the Caribbean’s burgeoning art scene, have for decades provided unmatched commercial opportunities for art galleries, non-profit spaces and other non-traditional art spaces to introduce their best works to individuals in the art world who influence the art market.
In Jamaica and the wider Caribbean contemporary visual art remains an untapped and underinvested resource. Though in the last decade a host of non-government organisations (NGOs) in the region (for eg. Alice Yard, Trinidad, NLS, Kingston, ARC Magazine, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and Fresh Milk, Barbados) have been founded to address the infrastructural and critical needs of the visual arts community— exhibition and studio space, residencies etc.— little has been done to develop or revive the economic potential of the sector.
ARC and NLS have made significant strides in building a global ecosystem around regional contemporary visual art and its practitioners by researching and adapting international contemporary best practices to the needs of the Caribbean region. Now the two organisations partner in building a market around visual art in the Caribbean by engaging international art fairs.
At the moment, the Caribbean is especially well-placed to engage the global art market. The region has begun to glean significant interest and recognition in the last few years. Artists from the Caribbean Diaspora have participated in established art fairs like VOLTA NY, VOLTA, Frieze, Art Basel (Miami Beach, Basel, Hong Kong), and the Armory. Several diaspora artists such as Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaica), Blue Curry (The Bahamas), Hew Locke (Guyana), Frank Bowling (Guyana), Frank Walters (Antigua), Tavares Strachan (The Bahamas) have developed significant markets; their names becoming synonymous with the increasingly global expanse of contemporary art. Leading contemporary art magazine Frieze featured the work of Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson on their April 2014 cover, along with a five page spread of reflections from six Caribbean art professionals (including Holly Bynoe), and mention of notable Caribbean art institutions (including NLS).
About the Artists:
James Cooper was born in Bermuda in 1965 and went to university in British Columbia Canada, where he studied landscape architecture. He was a pro athlete (triathlon) in his early twenties, where he represented Bermuda at a few world championships. His introduction to photography was primarily commercial as he owned a production company and produced all sorts of fashion and editorial shoots for U.S. and European clients, in Bermuda. Bermuda is a key part of his work, which consists largely of underwater photography, however Cooper’s work isn’t about documenting aquatic life in picturesque waters. Instead he depicts people in water accompanied by surreal props like horse masks, spray paint cans or bright strings.
Stephanie Cormier was born in Montreal, Canada, grew up in Barbados and has since lived in the UK and Toronto, where she currently resides. Stephanie completed her BFA at OCADU (Toronto) and holds an MFA from The University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario). Her work has been exhibited across Canada as well as internationally, she has earned several national grants and awards and her work can be found in the Carte Blanche Photographers Book I.
Ian Dele?n’s work is a personal journey of familial and cultural discovery, with societal implications that highlight lingering narratives within popular culture that seek to exoticize, romanticize, or apologize for colonialism in all of its forms. By means of video, the internet, performance, text, ready-made sculpture, recycled materials, education and activism, he strives to take these messages and subvert them, re-contextualize them, creating symbols that encourage new narratives and individual reflection on the systems of power that extend oppression and domination into the twenty-first century.
Nadia Huggins is a self-taught photographer from St.Vincent & the Grenadines; her primary focus for the past 11 years has been documentary and conceptual photography. Her photography has been featured in several online and print publications, including Fubiz, Words Without Borders, Pictures from Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photography and See Me Here: A Survey of Contemporary Self-Portraits from the Caribbean. Her work has been exhibited regionally and internationally, including Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions held in Washington DC in 2011 and is held in the World Bank collection. Also most recently her work was featured as part of the Pictures from Paradise exhibition featured at CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto. She is the co-founder of ARC Magazine and a full-time freelance graphic designer.
Leasho Johnson works in painting, ceramics, as well as graphic and fashion design. Johnson has shown locally at the Mutual Gallery and National Gallery of Jamaica, and internationally at Kad? Gallery in the Netherlands, and Real Art Ways in Connecticut. He is also a founding member of the Dirty Crayons collective, and has organized exhibitions in non-traditional spaces as part of that group. Johnson renders the raw and rejected of contemporary Jamaican culture using techniques traditionally esteemed in Jamaica. His ceramic avatars adopt the Kawaii aesthetic from Japanese art to depict an inner-city woman surrounded by her bawling babies. Leasho received his BFA in Visual Communication at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica.
Becca Kallem received an MFA in painting from the University of New Hampshire, with a BA in Art and Spanish from the College of William and Mary. She held a Fulbright teaching fellowship in Madrid, Spain and currently teaches elementary art. Most recently, her work has been exhibited in the DC area at Pleasant Plains Workshop, Heiner Contemporary, Hillyer Art Space, and Mary Washington University. She is a resident artist at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia.
Mark King holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In 2011 the Lucie Foundation selected Mark for their apprenticeship program. In the same year he participated in a screen-printing residency at the Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium. In 2012 he took part in an artist residency at Alice Yard in Trinidad. In 2013, he participated in two residencies; Fresh Milk in Barbados and Ateliers '89 in Aruba for the Mondriaan Foundation's Caribbean Linked ll.
Oneika Russell lives and works in Kingston, Jamaica. She studied Painting, Media, Film & Video Art in Jamaica, Japan and the UK. She also lectures in the Fine Art Department at The Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts in Kingston. She was a 2007 awardee of the Commonwealth Arts & Crafts Award and Visiting Artist at The Pratt Munson Williams Proctor College in Utica, NY. She has exhibited in solo & group exhibitions in Singapore, The US, UK, Japan, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Martinique and Canada.
Storm Saulter is a filmmaker, photographer and visual artist born in Negril, Jamaica. He is the writer, director and cinematographer behind multi award-winning feature film Better Mus’ Come. International critics have recognized Better Mus’ Come as heralding a new movement of independent filmmaking throughout the Caribbean. He is co-founder of New Caribbean Cinema film collective. Storm’s experimental films have been exhibited at The British Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and The National Biennial of Jamaica. His photography has been published in Rolling Stone Magazine, the FADER, and Billboard Magazine. Saulter received the 2011 Jamaica Gleaner Honor Award for his work in developing Jamaica’s Film Industry and the Jamaica Observer has named him one of his country’s most influential people.
Anabel Vasquez Rodriguez is both an artist and independent curator. Her work explores sociopolitical issues from an autobiographical perspective, and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Vazquez Rodriguez studied Painting at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and Photography and Film at The Massachusetts College of Art and Design. anabelvazquez.com.