Marielle Barrow, a T&T artist working on a PhD, has shown work with her mother Angelica three times over the past ten years. Their fourth show, Mindscapes, which opened yesterday at the Art Society, runs until August 12. Lisa Allen-Agostini posed a few questions to Marielle Barrow on the show.
Q: Your work has changed since you've been abroad. How and why?
A: I took several painting classes on campus over the first two years of my programme, so this played a role in how my work has shifted. Of course, I've been exposed to so much more and such different forms and practices of art, so my notions of beauty have been altered or perhaps subdued in lieu of other elements.
I am also more aware of materials and how my choices of media influence process and affect emotional response.
When I left Trinidad, I was a painter-mostly acrylic on canvas and occasionally watercolour. I have started to work in oils, play with photography and Photoshop, in addition to some experimentation with installation and video art.
What can a viewer expect to see in the show from your mother's work? How do your pieces speak to hers, and vice versa?
My mother's work forms the bulk of the exhibition. Her landscapes are spaces of rejuvenation-resounding with colour...although there are pitfalls, dark passages, warnings, almost. They mostly revolve around her spiritual journey, I believe.
Our palettes and textures are similar and we both have a tendency toward fluidity, hers in landscape formations and mine surrounding more figurative work. So technique remains similar, although there is a departure in subject.
A friend of mine, an artist, commented very interestingly, though, that this series on "Othering" makes him think of "psychological geography", "rivers and currents and peninsulas," so perhaps there is still more of her influence that remains in my work than I recognise.
The exhibition is titled Mindscapes, based on these convergences and divergence. In a sense we both work through the idea of windows. I reference the window coverings in different spaces and how they shape our impressions and the influence of what is beyond them, while my mother is always beyond the window, where the imagination merges with sight.
You're in the process of staging a series of conferences. Tell us about them and how your art fits into all that work.
The conferences are about pushing us to see ourselves within a global framework. They look more deeply at the relationship between cultural producers, their productions and the frameworks that govern and grow them.
I feel as though policy infrastructure for arts and culture does not effectively harness who we are, partly because we have not fully explored, expressed and written about where we are, and more often than not we are not allowed to curate our own works.
So my personal artwork is about exploring who I am, where I am-from the point of view of time and place, from the point of view of the global realities which are at times blinding, hence the metaphor of the blinds in this work.
These global realities must be acknowledged and fully understood and together with self-knowledge, we can create an architecture for something lasting. It is really an architecture, so the objective of these conferences is about pulling counterparts from different Caribbean countries into partnerships, pulling government agencies, academic minds and patron organisations to discuss and, hopefully, forge significant and lasting collaborations that really take into account where we are and where we can be.