Damali Abrams’ Residency: Week 2 Report

Damali's glitter covered dress

I presented my work to art majors at BCC (Barbados Community College) on Monday. Seriously one of the toughest crowds ever. They seemed to have a lot to say based on facial expressions and whispering amongst themselves but would not say much to me no matter how I tried to engage them. I learned afterward that this is common among students here. One student also told me privately after class that the fact that I framed my work as feminist made the males afraid to respond based on what other guys might think of them. He also thought that the young women in the  class might be afraid to respond, not wanting the guys to think that they were man-haters. When I mentioned feminism, one male student sadly asked “Why feminism? Why not something that includes everyone?” I tried to quickly define feminism and told him that it does include everyone. Then I prescribed some bell hooks.

I went back the next day with just Annalee’s class (a much smaller group than the day before) to watch Herb & Dorothy. It’s a really sweet documentary about this average couple (librarian & postal worker) who live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment and and spend their 40-something year marriage cramming the space with an amazing art collection worth millions. And then they refused offers to sell the work and instead donated the entire collection to the National Gallery.

After the film there was some very lively debate about what art is and what it is isn’t. Some of the students were quite offended that I’d said in my presentation the day prior that I believe that everything is art. They didn’t raise it during my talk but apparently talked a lot about it  afterwards. It was great to hear the students’ views and I really enjoyed engaging with them and getting to see one student’s work after class.

At the end of the week I went with the same group to a gallery called ArtSplash where a local artist exhibiting there spoke with the class about his work. It was nice being able to interact with a local artist and hearing about his practice and process.

I feel like my consciousness is expanding in so many ways. I have been consuming so much beauty here on a daily basis. I have been absorbing art and conversations. I have experienced new levels of solitude. It takes me a long time to process things so I have no idea how all of this is going to manifest in my art in the long-run…

I have been filming a lot (as always). The scenery is magical and I want to capture everything. I also make sure to pause at moments to take it all in without the camera. On Saturday Mark King, another local artist, took me to Bathsheba Beach so that I could get some footage. It was overwhelmingly beautiful and I’m really thankful that he was willing to be so generous with his time.

On Thursday Katherine invited me to her zumba class. It was absolutely amazing! Nothing but soca and dancehall music and a fun opportunity to wine up and wuk up! I learned some new moves to bring back to New York.

The project I came here to work on feels stagnant right now. I am trying to breathe new life into it but I’m not sure how. I feel extremely inspired but it’s like I’m in a completely different dimension than when I began working on the Fresh Performance  interviews way back in April. On the positive side, editing the work means deep listening to the words of the artists I’ve interviewed and I am gaining a lot of inspiration and insight from them as well.

And as you can see in the photos and video, I’m still enjoying covering things in glitter.

Damali Abrams

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