Bahamian artist, Veronica Dorsett writes about her experience during the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Dorsett reflects on moments of anticipation and how her hopes for moving forward in her work were propelled to a new level during the residency. Her intimate connection to the resident artists, the Aruban landscape and culture provoked an awakening in her that she didn’t foresee. Learn more about Caribbean Linked and Dorsett’s awakening here.
As we close our eyes at night, the conscious or subconscious hopes of a sweet dream are as defined as the hazy nothingness most of us conjure up. We dabble in thought before drifting off and most times with no real focus on any one thing we create a beautiful myriad of fragmented images. These images then cluster together delving us into a dreamlike state where, if you’re lucky, you’ll find Elvis Lopez, a couple of Arubans with a botched pick-up truck named ‘the Bronco’, 7 strangers, a couple of wine bottles – well, maybe more than a couple – and an empty art gallery begging to be filled. Yup, for me, being in Aruba simply felt like an extended dream that I quite honestly wish lasted just a little bit longer.
As my plane landed on this Happy Little Island, I quickly wrote down a few random thoughts and they were along the lines of the following:
I think it’s safe to say that by the end of that note, my dream had begun.
Arriving on the island from a ‘tourists’’ perspective was one thing, but experiencing “Aruba” for what it truly is with the local resident artists (Robin De Vogel, Germille Geerman and Kevin Schuit) was unforgettable. Seeing the raw beauty of the island allowed each of the visiting artists to find direct comparisons to “home”; and yet in the same breath, allowed us to uncover the distinct differences that exists between our islands.
Throughout the residency, as the baby of the group, I found myself very aware of my own personal search for my ‘style’ or my ‘tool’ as a budding artist. This residency became a major stepping stone in my career as I battled through uncertainty and sheer confusion for seven days straight. My lack of focus and frustration with my inability to even ‘create’ a focal point from everything Aruba had to offer brought me to a low where I simply felt defeated. Fortunately, I was able to talk to the other artists around me and draw from them their perspectives and words of advice to help me find my way. The short talks I had with each of them allowed me to accept my “lack of focus” as my “focal point” by taking all these ideas and experiences and combining them into a simple form that I could engage with – a black hole with a few ‘strings attached’. This form allowed me to create an answer to all my questions and combining it with random objects I had found as I walked through Aruba along with magazine cutouts pushed me into a realm of ‘organized clutter’.
The studio visits to local artists Ciro Abath, Osaira Muyale and Glenda Heyliger were crucial to my process during as well as after this residency at Atelier89. I keenly remember the sketches and models from Ciro’s studio along with the “all blue everything” sculpture’s at Osaira’s studio; both of which tapped into a sculptural craving I had somehow I forgotten I had. Seeing their work once again forced me to question whether I was using the right ‘tool’ or medium to create my work. And ‘Oh, Glenda’, who could forget Glenda? She definitely impacted me on an emotional level and boosted my confidence as she urged me to not be afraid of releasing my fears and most honest opinions within my work.
The dreamlike state that I continually found myself in was only encouraged by the drama free environment we all shared. It all came together in a magical way where we enjoyed one another’s company and made the most out of each day. Much of the nightlife was quite similar to home for me with one of my favorites being our night at ‘Don Pincho’ where we had either chicken, shrimp or mixed ‘pincho’s’ or what we like to call in the Bahamas “shish kabobs”. After that bellyful, we then danced the night away or at least everyone else danced while Mark King (Barbados) and I were attempting to master the ‘Bachata’ with the help of Omar Kuwas and Shirley Rufin who was our dancing queen of the night!
Another ‘exciting’ memory was made when a random dog charged at me as we were heading to a restaurant for dinner and I ever so “gracefully” (as Rodell Warner from Trinidad put it) leapt into Omar Kuwas’ (Curacao) arms out of complete and utter fear. Thankfully, the dog retreated and no one (except for Omar’s back) was hurt. In light of the moment we were given the nicknames “Shaggy and Scooby” and it became one of those classic moments that were unfortunately not caught on camera!
I can honestly say that this residency in Aruba has not only catapulted my thinking in a new direction but it has inspired me to share my practice more openly within my own community. For me, the concept alone of linking a group of people who all share a commonality through the Caribbean region and diaspora is an amazing opportunity that should be seized time and time again. The connections we have made will not only insure growth but it will also help create a stronger definitive of that which is ‘Caribbean’.
Boundaries have been broken, spirits have been lifted, a few wine bottles have been popped open and this dream has finally become reality.
To all my follow resident artists, the curators and most affectionately to Elvis Lopez, until next time!
Your Bahamian Sister.
Veronica Vo Dorsett
About Veronica Dorsett:
Veronica Dorsett was born in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas on November 20th, 1992. Currently living in Nassau, Bahamas as a student of the College of the Bahamas, Dorsett received an associate’s degree in art in the fall of 2012. She is primarily an installation artist but also shares a great interest in sculptural, ceramic and mixed media works. As a recent recipient of the 2012 Popopstudios ICVA Junior Residency Prize, she hopes the opportunity will push her work in a whole new direction as she aims to pursue a BFA in Sculpture in 2013.
CARIBBEAN LINKED II is a residency programme and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and funded by the Mondriaan Foundation. The programme took place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.