Reflection on Week 1 of the Fresh Milk residency by Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe

I have been at the Fresh Milk Contemporary Art Platform in Barbados for a week now. This is my first experience as a resident artist and I don’t believe there is a better space for me to be incubated at this stage of my journey. As someone who usually spends endless hours moving about to the yoga classes I teach, meetings for The Goat Dairy, interviews for my research on contemporary perspectives on the Grenada Revolution or helping my family with some errand…. it feels incredibly refreshing to spend my time between the Fresh Milk space and the apartment I am staying in just a short walk from here.  This little nook in Barbados is offering me solitude that I have not embraced in a while. I love connecting and sharing with people, it energizes me, but I also know that I deny myself necessary alone time in the midst of nurturing others. Here I’m finding balance, building connections with incredible artists, activists and critical thinkers in Barbados while also carving out space for myself.


The challenge that I have set for myself in this residency is to create, in essence, my first short film of this nature. This is the first time I am phrasing it this way, probably because acknowledging the monumental nature of that task has the potential to scare me into inaction. But, I am past that stage. Sure, I have manicou in the headlights kinds of moments, however, as I continue to grow, I can snap out of those moments sooner and meet these beautiful challenges head on. A wonderful friend recently reminded me that often times when we are faced with things that, for whatever reason, arouse fear or anxiety, our instinct is to lean back. But consider the power of leaning in. What happens when we quiet our inner critic and open ourselves up to the risk of utter miserable failure? Well, realistically we are also making ourselves available to the possibility of utterly blissful success, in whatever ways we define success.


This week at Fresh Milk has been a lot of brainstorming as I begin to take this film from concept through the stages of development to a final piece. The last time I did this was under extreme circumstances but was actually also in Barbados, at the Caribbean Tales film festival in April 2012. I collaborated with B.l.i.p productions from Jamaica to participate in the 48 hour film challenge. It was such an intense experience to have to conceptualize, script, cast, shoot, edit AND render out a film in exactly 48 hours. On top, of that I didn’t know Henry and Adjani, the creators of B.l.i.p, at all before the festival – but the processes brought us together in the most powerful way. In an experience like that, the time is so tight that you just have to give yourself over to the creative process and we did. People felt it and the film was honored with the award of best director and screened as one of the top entries.  This experience is different of course. I have the time to let this film develop in a unique organic process. I have the support of Annalee, a contemporary artist and director of Fresh Milk, and I am reaching out to my creative colleagues as well. One of the values of this experience is being able to get feedback and critiques. I miss that deeply from my days in the Studio Art program at Smith College. So, this week has been a process of building on previous experiences of ‘leaning in’ and I continue to give myself permission to ‘lean into’ this opportunity that I have been presented with.

Follow Malaika on Instagram @malaikabsl


8 thoughts on “Reflection on Week 1 of the Fresh Milk residency by Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe

    • Groundation Grenada Action Collective says:

      Thanks for your support. We added a link to it above but here is my film concept:

      This short film will paint a portrait of a woman in her late twenties/thirties and her navigation, not so much through her life, but through her thoughts about her life. It will be an intimate meandering through the disjointed waters of her daily internal dialogue. As Stuart Hall has written, the past “…is always constructed through memory, fantasy, narrative and myth.” The site of this interpretation of our past experiences, and those of the people around us, is always located in the present. So, our moments of “now” are constantly occupied with reinterpretations and reshuffling of our past in relation to what we are encountering anew. This film seeks to explore the complex and ever fluctuating relationships that we have with our experiences and the sense of being/ego that is build around these experiences. What snippets of society/family/relationships run through our daily thoughts? What perceptions of our past, and potential future, blur our experiencing of our present moments? How do we find a balance between a blur and a necessary reflection/planning? Can we clear space and opt for neither, for just a moment of experience without constant interpretation?


    • Groundation Grenada Action Collective says:

      You and I have had many conversations on a variety of issues related to sexuality. It makes sense that in thinking about the concept behind the film questions of sex, love and self expression come to mind. Who to love, how to love and how that love is serving those involved often take up so much space in our thoughts.

      All the ways that people are connecting to this film concept reaffirms the openness I am seeking in creating the film. I do not want to box it in, I want it to be free and available for people to connect to it in their own ways. My hope is that it brings up, in each viewer, an awareness of what shape and form their own over-thinking takes.

  1. Tamika G. Gilbert says:

    Indeed a beautiful reading. I too will consider the power of “leaning in” rather than leaning back… when I am faced with with my fears… Thanks for sharing.

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