Barbadian-Canadian painter Jordan Clarke shares her third blog post about her Fresh Milk residency, continuing to use self-portraiture and exploration of her surroundings for self-discovery and both personal and artistic growth, reckoning with the multiple facets and cultures that comprise her identity. Read more below:
While at Fresh Milk, I have been working through self-portraiture, landscapes, photography and journaling as a means to document my first visit to Barbados. Born in Canada, I am the daughter of a Canadian mother with Scottish and English roots and a Barbadian father who has now spent 75% of his life in Canada. As a result, I possess multiple identities. I see myself as mixed-race, Black and Canadian.
In Barbados, where I have no family members, I feel disconnected and exposed. I am an outsider in my father’s homeland where I had hoped to feel a sense of homecoming and belonging. Not surprisingly, the work I have been producing here is introspective, exploring the theme of self-perception. My double self-portrait in graphite really expresses the sense of vulnerability and sadness I felt soon after my arrival in Barbados.
I have also been looking outwards, exploring landscapes in my work, specifically sky and cloudscapes. I’m attracted to clouds because they are always in movement and constantly changing, creating new formations that never repeat. I also find them to be majestic and beautiful. For me, clouds represent a universal space rather than a specific place, a space that is similar in both Toronto and Barbados.
At the moment, I see landscapes and portraits as two different practices. I had originally intended to insert myself into the landscape to create a connection with the land and Barbados. Interestingly enough, this joining of my body and a still unfamiliar landscape isn’t happening.
This residency is a special opportunity for self-discovery and evolution. I am realizing that change is not always comfortable, but is an essential part of my growth as a woman and as an artist. What is most painful is the feeling that I am missing a large part of my cultural roots and identity.
This residency is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.