Residencies Address Grenadian Art Scene Shortcomings

Orevwa Grenada, an art exhibition to benefit two Grenadian artists who will be representing Grenada in Haiti next month, opened last evening in the Parnell Jones Hall of the Grenada National Museum.

Over 50 persons attended, including Minister for Culture Senator Brenda Hood, President of the Grenada Arts Council Oliver Benoit, art teachers, members of the local art community and art enthusiasts. Erik Johnson, architect, artist and co-founder – with Meg Conlon – of the Caribbean Art project (CAp), spoke briefly about the state of art in Grenada, and the benefit of attending art residencies.

The artists - Suelin Low Chew Tung, Prensnelo and Andrea McLeod
The artists – Suelin Low Chew Tung, Prensnelo and Andrea McLeod. Photo: Princess Jaggasar

On the state of art in Grenada, Johnson said, “It is limited and parochial; and some of the causes are due to geographical isolation, technical limitations and, until recently, the idea that we don’t need to be anything more than what we are. This is compounded by the lack of an institutional body that promotes Grenadian artists abroad. I ask myself, what happened to the recognition garnered by artists like (John) Benjamin and (Canute) Caliste, who are now almost forgotten names.”

The three exhibiting artists were Andrea McLeod, Prensnelo and Suelin Low Chew Tung. McLeod lectures in art at TAMCC. Prensnelo is a visiting artist from Haiti, who departs Grenada on 21 October, after participating in an extended cultural and visual art residency, hosted by Low Chew Tung and CAp.

“Residencies are a good way of addressing some of the shortcomings of the Grenadian art scene. There is cultural and intellectual exchange. There is assimilation of different techniques and skills, culminating in a wider network of artists to overcome the geographical isolation,” Johnson said.

Prensnelo presents Agwe to Angus Martin
Prensnelo presents Agwe to Angus Martin. Photo: Princess Jaggasar

McLeod and Low Chew Tung will be joining 20 international artists and as many Haitian counterparts for two weeks in Petion Ville, Haiti, as part of the third edition of Promart Haiti’s international art camp, organised by Patrick Cauvin. Last year, Low Chew Tung was the first Grenadian participant at the Haiti camp. Her attendance spawned the initiative to invite one of Promart’s artists, Jean Renel Pierre Louis (Prensnelo) to come to Grenada to paint, and to interact with local culture and the artist community.

In the absence of a representative from the National Lotteries Authority (NLA), Minister Hood received ‘Shac Shac Women’ on their behalf from Low Chew Tung, in appreciation for their support towards her recent participation at two art camps in Slovenia and Romania. Prensnelo presented a gift of a painting titled ‘Agwe’ to Angus Martin, Director of the Grenada National Museum, for his generous collaboration over the residency period.

Carnival inspired menu provided by John Pitt of Tonka Bean
Carnival inspired menu provided by John Pitt of Tonka Bean. Photo: Suelin Low Chew Tung

The culinary arts were also on display. Guests enjoyed delicate samplings provided by John Pitt of Tonka Bean, whose menu selections were inspired by locally grown produce and Grenada’s traditional carnival.

In conclusion, Johnson said, “…these people, through their commitment and effort, deserve our support in developing their skills and in exhibiting Grenada. They are our cultural ambassadors.”

NG

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