CATAPULT | Lockdown Virtual Salon

The CATAPULT Lockdown Virtual Salon programme aims to mitigate isolation, especially heightened during the current pandemic, by creating virtual platforms for cultural practitioners to engage in discourse about and explore their evolving practices. These one-hour artist talks from their homes or studios will be live-streamed via the Fresh Milk YouTube channel at 1PM and 4PM AST, every Tuesday and Friday between September 29th & November 20th, 2020.

Each cultural practitioner will be paired with a co-discussant for an open conversation about their work. A live audience will be able to comment and ask questions during the event, which will be open to the public with a focus on reaching a wide cross-section of the English, Spanish, French and Dutch speaking Caribbean arts community, as well as those civil society organisations who are working in the target areas of culture, gender, LGBTQIA+, human rights and climate justice.

Read the CATAPULT Lockdown Virtual Salon Jury Report here, and click on the videos below to watch each conversation about the creatives’ work!


Tuesday, Sept 29

About Co-discussant: Dr. Yanique Hume (Barbados)

Dr. Yanique Hume is a multifaceted scholar, priestess, dancer and choreographer with extensive research expertise and specialization across the Americas and the African Diaspora. Operating from the disciplines of cultural anthropology, cultural studies, and performance studies. Dr. Hume’s research experience and teaching areas include: religious and performance cultures of the African diaspora, Caribbean cultural thought, popular culture, migration and diasporic identities. As a multilingual researcher, her fieldwork experience in the sacred arts and African diaspora performance expressions are centered in the Caribbean and Latin America, especially Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Brazil and Colombia. In applied research, her work has focused on the creative industries and cultural policy; migration and tourism; museological production and management.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Jonathan van Arneman (Sint Maarten)

Jonathan van Arneman (AJ) is a dancer, choreographer, and musician from Soualiga (the indigenous name for St Martin, meaning land of salt). He is the 2019 recipient of the Momentum New Dance Works grant for emerging choreographers in Minneapolis and is the current Artist in Residence at the National Institute of Arts (NIA) in Soualiga. His training includes Yorchha, Haitian Dance, West African dance forms, Modern, Caribbean Social and Traditional Dances, and Capoeira. His current project, entitled Atlantis Rebirth, is both a nod to the defiant history of black peoples in the Caribbean as well as an imagination of a post-colonial Caribbean utopia.

IG: @aymagoh

About CATAPULT Awardee: Sonja Dumas (Trinidad & Tobago)

Sonja Dumas is a multi-hyphenate arts practitioner and theorist, specializing in Caribbean culture and working in the areas of arts consultancy, performance, choreography, teaching, filmmaking and writing.  She is a co-founder and co-director of COCO Dance Festival, the largest contemporary dance festival in the English-speaking Caribbean, as well as the founder and artistic director of her own dance company, Continuum Dance Project. An award-winning filmmaker, Sonja has written, directed and produced several films that speak to the Caribbean experience. She recently established Zum-Zum Museum, an interactive children’s museum highlighting various aspects of Caribbean heritage.

IG: @sonjadumas


Friday, Oct 2

About Co-discussant: Yina Jiménez Suriel (Dominican Republic)

Yina Jiménez Suriel is a curator and researcher. She has a master’s degree in History of Art and Visual Culture, with a focus on Visual Studies. She has collaborated with different institutions, among them Casa Quién and the Museo de Arte Moderno of Medellín. She is part of the curatorial team at Centro León in the Dominican Republic, where she lives and works. Together with Puerto Rican artist Pablo Guardiola, she co-curated the exhibition One month after being known in that island open until November at the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger in collaboration with Caribbean Art Initiative.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Helen Ceballos (Puerto Rico)

Soy artista transdisciplinaria del performance, videoartista y fotógrafa autodidacta. Nacida en el Caribe de los 80, mujer queer, afrodescendiente, obrera del arte y la gestión cultural. En mis piezas visuales y performáticas trabajo con nociones y conceptos sobre la descolonización del cuerpo, el artivismo, el espacio físico y conceptual de las fronteras, las mudanzas, lo político, lo escatológico, el ritual, lo erótico, lo infraleve, lo esotérico y lo cuir. Tengo 34 años, he vivido en 11 ciudades, 7 países y 35 casas, lo que quiere decir que tengo más mudanzas en el cuerpo que años en el mundo y son precisamente esos traslados los que marcan una de las líneas temáticas más presente en mi obra: La migración. Veo las instancias performáticas que diseño como secuelas de mi cotidiano. Hay verdad, también verdades ficcionadas. Trabajo con lo que me pasa, mi cuerpo y su ruta, como sujeto y objeto de estudio es el material.

FB: helen.ceballos

About CATAPULT Awardee: Sandra Vivas (Dominica)

Sandra Vivas studied Art History at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and later completed her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in the United States before moving to Dominica in 2009. Vivas is a video and performance artist with strong conceptual influences, questioning clichés about identity and the structure of power in relationships. Vivas works with multiple media including: drawing, painting, video, live performances and most recently film. In 2017 Vivas was at her home in Dominica when Cat 5 Hurricane Maria nearly killed her and her family. Since then, Vivas’ relationship with climate change became personal.

IG: @sandravivasart


Tuesday, Oct 6

About Co-discussant: Elfrieda Bissember (Guyana)

Elfrieda Bissember was Director/Curator of the National Gallery of Guyana from 1996 to 2014, presenting a public events programme promoting contemporary and historical Guyanese art, and the literary, performing, film and video arts. She was Tutor in Drawing, Painting and Art History at Guyana’s Burrowes School of Art (1986-1991), and Art critic of the Guyana Review (1993-2001); an elected member of the International Association of Art Critics (1998), and an institutional member of the Museums Association of the Caribbean Executive (2004-07/2007-10). She was a Judge of the Clico Caribbean Regional Art Prize (2003) and the Guyana Prize for Literature 2006 and 2010; and Visual Arts Representative on the Caricom Regional Task Force for Cultural Industries (2008-2009).

About CATAPULT Awardee: Kenneth ‘Black’ Blackman (Barbados)

Kenneth ‘Black’ Blackman is a sculptor, practicing for over 30 years. His art developed through self-awareness, intuition, and inner guidance. He is deeply influenced by his love of Africa. He works mainly in wood, but also sculpts in stone and creates mixed media works utilizing the objects found around him. His practice revolves around the exploration of nature and upliftment of Black people. He has participated in countless shows, has work in private collections around the world and the Barbados National collection. He has won numerous awards including a Jubilee award in recognition of his contribution to the Arts in Barbados.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Vivien Elizabeth Armour (Trinidad & Tobago)

Vivien Elizabeth Armour is a multidisciplinary artist from Trinidad & Tobago. Having grown up around the world, Vivien explores the relationship between culture, race, tradition, ethnic hybridity, bodily autonomy and sexuality. Vivien currently situates her practice in the overlap of belonging and not belonging, exploring notions of alien-ness, indigeneity, post-colonial trauma and how that relates to identity. Her paintings juxtapose natural materials such as clay, spices, and raw cotton, with vibrant acid colours, reflecting the visceral energy of Caribbean culture, while focusing on the raw materiality of the earth and its relationship to the body in her ceramic practice.

IG: @vieviebear


Friday, Oct 9

About Co-discussant: Russell Watson (Barbados)

Russell Watson works as an interdisciplinary visual artist, multimedia educator and media professional. Since completing his MFA in Film, Video and New Media at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, he has lectured and instructed in photography and video production in both public and private tertiary institutions in the United States and Barbados. As a media professional, he has led a multimedia production studio since 2010 that offers photography, graphic design, video production and digital projection services to a broad spectrum of commercial clients including government agencies, academic researchers, marine contractors, financial institutions, theatre companies, restaurants, heath and wellness professionals, artists and event designers. His work in experimental and conceptual media allows him to explore the synergy between digital imaging and live performance as a way to challenge and expand the conventional audience relationship of cinema and theatre.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Amir Hall (Trinidad & Tobago)

Amir Denzel Hall struggles with bios tbh. He knows this much tho; when he writes, performs or dreams, he feels free. And above all things, he is trying to share that feeling.

IG: @amirdenzelhall

Notes on the media included in this interview:

The first video is an excerpt from Man Man interviews, a Project Son of Man initiative. The video this excerpt comes from was shot and edited by Elechi Todd, interviews and concept were by Amir Denzel Hall and Sheila Chukwulozie.

The second media features still images from Happy Survival Performance in Lagos 2019 and Amir’s performance at Love Redefined by Poetic Theater Productions in New York 2020. Happy Survival was performed as part of Project Son of Man in collaboration with Sheila Chukwulozie, Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu and Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu.

The third media is from a video project undertaken during project Son of Man. It was edited and shot by Elechi Todd, directed and performed by Sheila Chukwulozie and Amir Denzel Hall.

The fourth media item is a screen recording of the digital j’ouvert Pray Daddy, done in collaboration with Andrew Smith and Dr. Marisa Parham and the Immersive Realities Lab for the Humanities team.

The fifth media item is from a Live workshop of Pray Daddy, a collaboration between Tara Oluwafemi and Amir Denzel Hall, at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, MA.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Rachel Chin (Jamaica)

Rachel Chin is a filmmaker and researcher from Kingston, Jamaica. Currently pursuing a Master’s in History at McGill University, she works freelance as a screenwriter and story editor. As an undergraduate, she was heavily involved in Columbia University’s DIY film scene. In 2019, she was selected as story editor in the JAFTA-JAMPRO-British Council Feature Film Lab. Since then, she has worked on several projects within the Jamaican film industry and facilitated an online screenwriting workshop for up-and-coming talent from the island.

IG: @chel.chin


Tuesday, Oct 13

About Co-discussant: Dr. Marsha Pearce (Trinidad & Tobago)

Dr. Marsha Pearce is a lecturer and Visual Arts Unit coordinator at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. She has worked as the Senior Editor and Art Writer for ARC Caribbean Art and Culture Magazine and is a consulting editor for Moko Caribbean Arts and Letters Magazine. Her scholarly work includes her practice as a curator, with exhibition projects done in collaboration with the Pérez Art Museum Miami, National Portrait Gallery London and the British Council. In the midst of this current pandemic, she led an artists’ conversation series titled Quarantine and Art.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Jeana Lindo (Jamaica)

Jeana Lindo is a multimedia artist based in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a graduate of Parsons School of Design’s BFA Photography program in New York City. Her work has been exhibited in many cities including London; Chicago; New York; Washington DC; and Kingston, Jamaica. Her large family and travel experiences inform her work which is focused on cultural identity and social issues. She expresses herself through collage, poetry, and textiles, and her primary disciplines are photography and painting. Through her art, Jeana intends to expand ideas of contemporary Jamaican art and stories from the African diaspora.

IG: @jeanalindophoto

About CATAPULT Awardee: Esther Chin (Jamaica)

About Esther Chin: ‘My art is the truth of my soul through which I communicate’. I am a meticulous individual, from the scenic parish of St Mary, Jamaica. During my formative years of life my passion for art was encouraged by my gram-ma and mother. Since my graduation from the School of Arts in Kentucky, USA., I have exhibited in various shows both locally and internationally. My inspiration comes from my love for the environment; its flora and fauna, social issues, my cultural identity and personal experiences. The urge to experiment with various materials also foster my innate desire to create and make art.

IG: @estherchinart


Friday, October 16

About Co-discussant: Lusette Verboom (Curaçao)

In 1996, Lusette Verboom started Kas di Alma Blou, Gallery & Giftshop to promote local art in Curaçao. She first rented a space for 10 years before buying the gallery’s current location, Landhuis Habaai, a former plantation house with a special section dedicated to Curaçaon folk art. To empower women, she has also organized courses on making crafts from recycled materials, involving artists in the creation of new products. Lusette writes about art in local newspapers, published small books about the arts, and has co-organized large curatorial exhibitions, publications, and even an art quartet game for schools with a website. She was a curator for the Aruba Art Fair 2019, and has curator exhibitions for 3 Caribbean Artists in 2020 so far.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Dominique Hunter (Guyana)

Dominique Hunter is a multi-disciplinary visual artist living and working in Guyana. She received her BFA from the Barbados Community College in 2015 and secured the Leslie’s Legacy Foundation Award for Most Outstanding Work. Past residencies include Caribbean Linked IV (Aruba) and the Vermont Studio Center Residency (USA), following the award of a Reed Foundation Fellowship. Hunter has exhibited extensively locally as well as in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Miami. She has work in several prestigious collections including Guyana’s National Collection. Hunter is represented in the state of California by ParisTexasLA.

IG: @dhunter110

About CATAPULT Awardee: Brandon Kirk Best (Barbados)

About Brandon Kirk Best: Growing up I was always fascinated by the creative work of television, and especially animation. It being so easy to pick up a pencil and draw, that’s where it all started for me, as early as 8 years old. Through my adolescence, I frequently drew, but was never taking it too seriously; I didn’t paint either, due to comparing myself to my very talented peers. It wasn’t until November of 2019, and after learning my love for oil pastels in 2017, that I discovered my painting style. Painting became far more serious and a part of my life when I realized that above everything else I tried, this worked and fulfilled me. My inspirations for my work regularly come from my love for experimental hip-hop and jazz. The subject of my work is normally from observations and experiences from my work life as a waiter and a bartender, and of course my personal life also.

IG: @brandonkbest


Tuesday, October 20

About Co-discussant: Johanna Auguiac-Célénice (Martinique)

Johanna Auguiac-Célénice is the founder of the JM’Arts Gallery (2002-2012) and Scientific/Artistic Advisor on Caribbean contemporary art for Kréyol Factory Exhibition, Paris, La Villette, among many others. She is an independent Exhibition Curator and has been Co-curating for the Festival Tout-Monde, Miami; for the Memorial Act, Turning Tide, Guadeloupe; for the Festival Les Météores, France; Les Francophonies, France; Maditierra, Cuba. She participated at Momentum (Edinburgh), Tilting Axis 2 (Miami), and the C-MAP/MOMA (New-York). She is the initiator and director of the BIAC Martinique. Today she is in charge of the restoration of the house of the Martinican poet Aimé Césaire and of the FAC (Foundation Aimé Césaire).

About CATAPULT Awardee: Richard-Viktor Sainsily Cayol (Guadeloupe)

Richard-Viktor Sainsily Cayol was born in Guadeloupe in 1959, and is a graduate of Beaux-Arts in Paris, a former student of Arts-Déco in Paris, and has studied photography at the American Parson’s School of Photography and art history at the Sorbonne. Between 1981 to 2019, he has exhibited in France, Japan, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Senegal and Italy. In 2010, he received the “Innovation Prize” at the Triennale of Contemporary art in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic), and in 2017 the “installation prize” at the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Florence, Italy. In February 2019, he exhibited at the Gallery 24 Beaubourg (France / Paris), an installation as part of a collective institutional exhibition, then at the end of April at the Havana Biennale in Cuba, where his installation was kept at the Havana Rum Museum.

IG: @richardviktor

About CATAPULT Awardee: Joni P. Gordon (Jamaica)

Joni P. Gordon (BFA Photography, 2019) was born in Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica, in 1997 and is now based in Kingston. She has a passion for sculpture and photography, which she explored while enrolled at the Edna Manley College. Being a tactile learner, Joni merges her love for using her hands with her photographic skills, bringing about a marriage of the two mediums that challenges the conventional boundaries of photography. Her work has been exhibited in the School of Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition (2019) and Resonances: Selections from 2019 School of Visual Arts Final Year Exhibition in collaboration with Kingston Creative.

IG: @jonigordon_


Friday, October 23

About Co-discussant: Alim Hosein (Guyana)

Alim Hosein is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, University of Guyana. He lectures in Linguistics and has also lectured in Literature and Art. He has a longstanding interest in art and culture, and has been publishing articles on Guyanese art in the respected Stabroek News for over thirty years. He has been a member of many national committees on cultural matters, and is currently Chairman of the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition (GVACE), Guyana’s national Art exhibition. He tries to create his own art in his spare time, including most recently, different series of drawings, some influenced by Guyana’s past, and others featuring birds.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Niarus Walker (US Virgin Islands)

Niarus Walker is a 49 year old artist who lives and works in St. Croix, USVI. She has been a practicing artist and educator for 25 years and is proficient in traditional wet and dry media. She also uses encaustic techniques in some of her work. Her focus lies mainly in mixed media pieces which explore social issues through the lens of generational and collective memories and experiences mostly steeped in Virgin Islands history and culture. Niarus most recently completed a series of watercolor paintings which explores the idea of women as the bridge which transfers our cultural traditions.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Denise Robinson (Jamaica)

Denise Francis-Robinson is an Artist and Master Educator and Facilitator. She is a multi-talented and highly creative individual. Denise is a graduate of the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts and earned her Masters degree in Art in Education from the Ohio State University, in Columbus Ohio. She is a former principal dancer with Jamaica’s foremost dance company the National Dance Theater Company (NDTC). With more than a passing interest in dramatic theater, she has also shared the stage with some of Jamaica’s known actors. In her own artmaking practice, Denise is known for her brightly colored decorative art/ surface designs on ceramic, canvas and almost anything that will hold paint. Her artistic offerings range from the whimsical to surreal. They are usually expressive with strong symbolism. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and art fairs. As an accomplished costume designer she has been a three time awardee of the Actor Boy Award for best costume design. In the field of education she was awarded the Top Teacher Award in the JCDC National Visual Arts competition for three years in a row.

IG: @denisefrancisrob


Tuesday, October 27

About Co-discussant: Kendel Hippolyte (St. Lucia)

Kendel Hippolyte is a Saint Lucian poet, playwright and director. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies regionally and internationally. His sixth book, Fault Lines, won the Bocas Poetry Prize in 2013. He has taught poetry workshops in the Caribbean and UK and performed at literary events in the Caribbean, Europe and beyond. He has written nine plays, three of them published, and directed numerous productions in more than forty years of theatre. He has also written and directed radio and television drama for public education and was artistic director of his own company for eighteen years.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Rochelle Ward (Sint Maarten)

Rochelle Ward is a poet and teacher, who started writing poetry while attending the St. Maarten Academy, the school where she now teaches English and Literature. The recipient of the 2004 Hilary Becker Poetry Award holds a BA in English and Communications from Pace University and completed MFA-level creative writing courses at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. Ward has recited her poetry at slams and literary festivals in Anguilla, Dominica, St. Maarten and Nevis. Her poetry appears in the anthology, Where I See the Sun—Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin (2013), published by House of Nehesi Publishers.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Evoné Walters (Jamaica)

Evoné Walters is a graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, School of Drama in Kingston, Jamaica. She has over 10 years experience in the industry. She has worn hats such as stage manager, tv show production manager, radio producer and project coordinator. Currently she is a creative social entrepreneur, theatre director and producer. She is the founder and managing director of Artribute Performing Arts, a company focused on using the arts as a medium of learning. Artribute’s main service is staging secondary school English Literature texts as plays for students preparing for school exit examinations. Evoné is also proficient in using the arts as a vehicle for social change focusing focusing on maladaptive behaviour in youths. Her passions also include the building of the creative industry in Jamaica and the education of creative entrepreneurs.

IG: @artribute_ja


Friday, October 30

About Co-discussant: Marieke Visser (Suriname)

As a child Marieke Visser (Bennekom, the Netherlands, 1962) lived in Saudi Arabia, Burundi, Thailand and Suriname, respectively. She studied journalism and linguistics and literary theory in the Netherlands and has returned to Suriname since 1993. In 2000 she founded a creative communications company, Tabiki Productions. Her main subject is art and culture. Most of her work includes editing, writing and coordinating. In 2009 she started a digital platform for Surinamese visual arts: Sranan Art Xposed. This proved to be a great way to reach out beyond national borders and to connect to the Caribbean art world. In Marieke’s literary work, her theme is the quest for identity; a quest that makes her feel at home in Suriname, a country where the people are struggling with the same questions as she is.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Katrina Coombs (Jamaica)

Katrina Coombs, born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, holds an MFA in Creative Practice from Transart Institute via The University of Plymouth. Coombs’ work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, of which, her most recent includes, DVCAI traveling exhibition ‘Inter│Sectionality: Diaspora Art from The Creole City’, at the Corcoran Museum (2019) and her first solo exhibition ‘Iyami Aje’, at the Gene Pearson Gallery (2020). She has been awarded residencies with DVCAI (Miami), G.E.M. (New York) and Davidoff Arts Initiative (Colombia). Coombs, works engages the role and existence of the woman, the M’0’ther through fiber. She lives and works in Jamaica.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Gabrielle Wilkes (Trinidad & Tobago)

Gabrielle Wilkes was born in St Lucia but raised in the land of her parent’s birth, Trinidad and Tobago. She received her BFA in Art with a concentration in Metals from Ball State University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite majoring in metals, she often works in mixed media, availing herself of any accessible materials. Her work is born from a constant introspection as she explores the themes of identity and culture. She was the recipient of the prestigious Dean’s Scholarship, an Aspire Student Grant, and a scholarship to study abroad in Italy.

IG: @gabby.wilkes


Tuesday, November 3

About Co-discussant: Ian Bethell-Bennett (The Bahamas)

Born in New Providence and raised around the colonial world, I am deeply connected to Caribbean spaces and agency as a peoples of migration, displacement and creole connectivity and creativity. I have worked with Caribbean islands, mainlands and identities repeating across time and space through Benitez-Rojo’s work as well as works of Edouard Glissant, Aime Cesaire in postcolonial studies to inform my understanding of colonialism in Caribbean experiences left after the end of direct colonial rule. I work through these themes in my photography, poetry, creative non-fiction and critical essays. My creative expression finds some home in the earlier works of theorists like Gloria Anzaldua, Zora Neale Hurston and Audre Lorde who challenge constructs of unbelonging and colonialism as they pertain to spatial displacement, occupation, sexuality, and identity formation. My creative, academic and critical work has focused on moving beyond time-bound understandings of space, agency, time and the limited agency of sexualised subjectivity.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Lisandro Suriel (Sint Maarten)

Lisandro Suriel earned his Bachelor’s degree in Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and received his Master’s of Art by research in Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam. His on-going project Ghost Island employs Black imagination in order to generate linkages to a forgotten past and decolonial identity. Ghost Island also stands for Suriel’s insular background in Saint Martin, and connotes the Caribbean condition of complex overlapping histories. He proposes that the imaginative lens is arguably the best with which to view how folkloric figures act as an agent in history and animate cultural memory.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Mariantonia Ordóñez (Puerto Rico)

Mariantonia Ordóñez studied Art in The University of Puerto Rico, La Liga de Arte, Escuela de Artes Plásticas and Casa Candina. Her work has been exhibited individually and collectively from the year 1980. She was a member of Asociación de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico, has illustrated children’s books and taught Art in Casa Candina, La Liga de Arte and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. At the moment she works as an artist in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Friday, November 6

About Co-discussant: Andre Bagoo (Trinidad & Tobago)

Andre Bagoo is a Trinidadian poet and writer, the author of four books of poems. His essay collection on literature and art, The Undiscovered Country, is published by Peepal Tree Press.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Lysanne ‘GoddessEye’ Charles (Saba)

Lysanne ‘GoddessEye’ Charles is a native of the Dutch Caribbean islands of Saba and St. Maarten and has been writing poetry, short stories and songs for the past 30 years. For the past 15 years she has been busy with theater production, staging poetry events and writing calypso, power & groovy soca and roadmarch. In 2017 she edited and self-published her grandmother’s memoir and in 2019 her own book HERE: A Collection of Queer Caribbean LGBT Affirming Poetry & Short Stories. As an artist/activist she focuses on themes around women, youth, Caribbean and LGBTQIA+ identity and empowerment, sexuality and spirituality.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Beatriz Llenín Figueroa (Puerto Rico)

Beatriz Llenín Figueroa is a compañera and dreamer, a writer and theater apprentice. Alongside her beloved Lissette, they are devotees of Andre, the dog, and Clara, the cat. She teaches at UPR-Mayagüez as adjunct faculty. Her creative and political life revolves around Caribbean literatures and philosophies, island and archipelagic studies, gender and queer theory, decoloniality, theater and performance. Some of her work within PR’s crisis was collected in Puerto Islas: crónicas, crisis, amor (2018). She is Editora Educación Emergente’s associate editor and a freelance editor and translator. With her Vueltabajo friends – and with every theater person who makes her an accomplice – she confabulates.

Twitter: @VeaCosaBonita


Tuesday, November 10

About Co-discussant: DJ Simmons (Barbados)

D.J Simmons is a pure bajan poet. This award winning spoken word artist and acclaimed writer has been performing and developing the art of poetry and creative writing in Barbados for the past decade. He is a multiple award winner at the National Independence Festival Of Creative Arts (NIFCA), including Gold, and the inaugural winner of the Bruce St. John Award. He represented his country proudly at Carifesta XII, XII and XIV in Haiti, Barbados and Trinidad respectively promoting Barbadian literature. D.J also is the Co-Founder of the Bajan arts and culture web platform, produces works through his company DoJangles Publishing, and provides copy editing and copywriting services to corporate entities. This animated storyteller also enjoys working with children of all ages, performing with the Read2Me initiative, and acts as the tutor for Creative Writing at the annual NCF Arts Camp. His dynamic attractive personality provides a song for every season and a rhyme for every reason.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Kevin Richard Bhall (Trinidad & Tobago)

Kevin Bhall is a self-taught artist and animator from Trinidad. He has been animating all his life and since the early 2000s has been producing independent animated projects, several of which have earned critical nominations and awards. His films focus on a variety of themes ranging from environmental and cultural to humourous in nature. These themes are often combined together and delivered with stunning animation for maximum effect. Additionally, his hilarious viral animations done over live action video, known as “real life doodles” under the name “bloopledebleep1” have delighted millions on sites such as imgur, reddit, 9gag, instagram and more. Even now he continues to push the boundaries of the medium in the new space that the internet has created, to spread humour, our Caribbean culture, environmental awareness and more.

IG: @bloopledebleep1

About CATAPULT Awardee: Five Steez (Jamaica)

It is impossible to have a credible discussion about Hip Hop in Jamaica without mentioning Five Steez. Although the country isn’t a hot spot for Hip Hop talent, the underground Kingston MC has graced international festivals and has been acknowledged by Earmilk, Okayplayer and The FADER. Reminiscent of the golden era, with a new twist, a common man’s perspective and an unheard Jamaican narrative, Five Steez’ music has been described by critics as ‘poignant’ and ‘soulful’, with lyricism full of imagery, storytelling and wit.

IG: @FiveSteez


Friday, November 13

About Co-discussant: Natalie Urquhart (Cayman Islands)

Natalie Urquhart is the Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. She holds degrees in Art History and Arts Management and has twenty years experience in the cultural sector specializing in the development of creative strategy, programming and exhibitions for arts organizations and heritage sites. Urquhart has served as President of the Museums Association of the Caribbean since 2017, where she works to increase opportunities for the Caribbean creative sector through conferences and workshops with diverse partners including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, UNESCO, ICOM, the EULAC Foundation, and others. She is a former core committee member of Tilting Axis (2016-2020); and a member of the Cayman Islands National Cultural Policy Committee, where she represents the Visual Arts, Fashion and Creative Industry sectors.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Susan Mains (Grenada)

Susan Mains is an artist with a self-inflicted art education. An educator by training, she began painting while living in Dominica in the 1980’s. The Caribbean is her home, having grown up in Barbados and Grenada. Recent genetic research has revealed ancestors from Barbados as early as the late 1600s. More importantly, the love of place has inspired decades of communicating its beauty and essence via paint on canvas. A community art activist, she has been involved in the promotion of art in Grenada on a community, regional and international level. Her highest accolade has been the appointment of commissioner for the organization of the Grenada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for three consecutive editions. Her paintings have been collected world wide, and her contemporary installations have been exhibited in biennales in such diverse places as Dominican Republic, Rio di Janeiro, Venice, and Spain. Susan is an artist who follows her heart.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Nicholas Rose (Jamaica)

Nicholas Rose is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, designer and entrepreneur. He is best known as an artist, featuring his ‘heavily line decorated’ drawings, illustrations and paintings exploring the local archetypes, as featured in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 and the National Biennial 2014 at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Remarkably, his works have been shown at Brooklyn Museum (New York), Gallery 550 (Texas), Warrington (UK) and recently in Venice, Italy. Mr. Rose initiated ‘NRoseArtStudio’ which included six of his students. And, staged their first studio exhibition entitled “Project 119,” which opened at the Olympia Art Gallery and then travel to several other Spaces in Kingston including the Regional Headquarters, UWI Mona.


Tuesday, November 17

About Co-discussant: Alex Martínez Suárez (Dominican Republic)

Alex Martínez Suárez is an architect, researcher, and curator. He holds a master’s in advanced architecture from the Berlage Institute, Netherlands, and an ALM in museum studies from Harvard University. Along with his independent curatorial practice, he is currently general coordinator and museographer at the Museo Fernando Peña Defilló, He is also columnist and editorial board member of Arquitexto Magazine. Currently teaching at Harvard University, Universidad Iberoamericana, DR, and Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. He has also taught and lectured in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. He is principal of Archipiélago, an interdisciplinary and collaborative platform based in Santo Domingo.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Llaima Sanfiorenzo (Puerto Rico)

Llaima Suwani Sanfiorenzo, has had a career as a documentary filmmaker and video artist for a number of years. She is a Puerto Rican mother of two who graduated from EICTV in Cuba, and was awarded a scholarship from the University of Potsdam in Germany. She has a participatory film project called The Selfportrait Factory, and is a workshop owner and independent artist working with video art and social cinema. She works as coordinator of the Laboratory and Film Market at the Santo Domingo Film Festival, and is currently the President of the Association of Documentalists of Puerto Rico. #suwanillaima

About CATAPULT Awardee: Samuel Sarmiento (Aruba)

Samuel Sarmiento is a self-taught artist. In 2010, he undertook a Master’s degree in Artistic Production at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. He has participated in various exhibitions, individually as well as collectively in Venezuela, Aruba, Germany, Spain, Panama, Argentina and China. His work is composed of enigmatic characters, giving it an air of uncanniness, nonconformity and uncertainty together with a nuance of ludic and unreal sensations. His work is the “pictorial equivalent” of his emotions, thoughts and beliefs related with Caribbean folktales. Samuel lives and works in Aruba.


Friday, November 20

About Co-discussant: Raquel Paiewonsky (Dominican Republic)

Raquel Paiewonsky was born in Dominican Republic, 1969. Lives and works in Santo Domingo. Between 1991-2001 lived in New York where she began her work with painting, sculpture, installation, photography and video, often combining several of these mediums. Her work has been exhibited widely in Europe, United States, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. She was invited to the 53th and 55th editions of the Venice Biennale; also participated in the VIII, IX and XXI Biennial of Havana, Cuba; the X Biennial of Cuenca, Ecuador and the Third Biennial del fin del mundo in Ushuaia, Argentina. Raquel has been an active participant in art circuits in her country; she has a particular interest in promoting spaces for dialogue and education within cultural platforms. She was part of Quintapata art collective and together they created public art projects that connected art with the community.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Stephanie Leitch (Trinidad & Tobago)

Stephanie Leitch is a writer, feminist organizer, LGBTQ+ advocate and nonprofit leader from Trinidad and Tobago. In 2011, she founded the digital platform WOMANTRA, which remains the premiere hub for Caribbean and Diaspora social justice activists and cyber-feminist advocacy. In 2015, Stephanie successfully transitioned the popular virtual space into a registered nonprofit and has headed the organization for the past five years. Her activism largely focuses on sexual and gender-based violence, social policy development and young feminist mentorship. Employing dynamic approaches to her advocacy, Stephanie has utilized popular theatre, art installation, creative campaign development and digital media strategies.

About CATAPULT Awardee: Awilda Rodríguez Lora (Puerto Rico)

Awilda Rodríguez Lora (La Performera) is a performance choreographer and cultural worker. Her artistic practice includes the creation of La Rosario, a home for healthy, collective and sustainable living. In addition, she collaborates in transgressive artistic projects, promoting freedom and expression through performance, dance, video and voice.

CATAPULT | A Caribbean Arts Grant is a COVID-19 relief programme conceptualised by Kingston Creative (Jamaica) and Fresh Milk (Barbados) and funded by the American Friends of Jamaica | The AFJ (USA). Designed as a capacity building initiative it will directly provide financial support to over 1,000 Caribbean artists, cultural practitioners and creative entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic and working in the themes of culture, human rights, gender, LGBTQIA+, and climate justice.