Jordan Clarke’s Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Barbadian-Canadian painter Jordan Clarke shares her fourth blog post about her Fresh Milk residency. In her final week, Jordan confronts some of the underlying reasons for her disconnect with the Barbadian side of her identity, and sees her experience in the island as a starting point to build on as she investigates this part of her culture and herself. Read more below:

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“As is common to most transnational communities, the extended family – as network and site of memory – is the critical conduit between the two locations.” (Stuart Hall, ‘Thinking the Diaspora: Home – Thoughts from Abroad’, Caribbean Political Thought)

It is typically through family that Caribbean migrants are able to maintain a sense of connection to their Caribbean culture. What happens, however, when there isn’t a sense of cultural sharing through family? How does this affect one’s sense of cultural identity?

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In my fourth week at Fresh Milk, I confronted the fact that my father has never been solidly present to share his cultural identity and family with me. I drew a self-portrait in response, with the intention of representing a conversation I would have with my father. A more confident me stares out, confronting.

I realize that the work I have created here during my residency represents a starting point for further investigation of the theme of self-perception, as well as self-discovery. It will act as a guide for future work once I’m home.

In thinking about the four weeks I’ve been here, I couldn’t be more grateful for this rewarding experience. Having such a wonderful studio to work in, without the usual daily distractions, has been refreshing and inspirational. Fresh Milk’s extensive library, full of contemporary Caribbean literature and art publications, has been an invaluable tool for informing my work here. I can’t thank both Annalee Davis and Katherine Kennedy enough for all their help and support. Annalee is full of knowledge and has been able to point me in directions I showed interest in, while leaving me space to navigate my art practice. I would also like to thank Aaron Kamugisha for his help and good company.

It has been so stimulating to connect with all the artists who have visited Fresh Milk during my residency. I see my time here as a starting point, a spark that will encourage further exploration and dialogue in my art practice.

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This residency is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Jordan Clarke’s Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

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:

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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.

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This residency is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Fresh Milk welcomes Jordan Clarke to the platform

Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome Barbadian-Canadian visual artist Jordan Clarke as our next international artist-in-residence. Jordan will be on the platform from March 23 – April 17, 2015. Read more below:

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As an artist and Barbadian-Canadian who has been removed from the physical geography of Bajan culture, Jordan Clarke wishes to use her residency at Fresh Milk  to discover and explore her Caribbean identity and ancestry. She will have the time and space to focus on her practice, to connect with the Bajan community, and to exchange ideas with local Barbadian artists, especially those dealing with identity politics in their work.

Her mixed-race background has provided her with a distinctive and sensitive perspective on issues of identity and agency, such as the role colour plays in shaping one’s identity, society’s classification of cultural/racial groups, and the limitations of stereotypes and/or pre-determined gender or racial roles. How we perceive ourselves, as well as how we are perceived by others, is an underlying concern of her work. 

During the residency, she would like to explore process, style, and content in her art, using the time to gather information and generate ideas in a new environment; discovering what artistic direction Barbados inspires, rather than producing a final series of paintings.

Using this research as a starting point, Clarke will begin “mapping out” her history, using visual signifiers to create connections and a sense of place, primarily through ‘self-portraiture’ – whether the ‘self-portraits’ are suggestive or literal remains to be seen.

About Jordan Clarke:

Jordan Clarke is a Toronto-based artist. Working in oil paints, Jordan uses the female form to explore themes of self and identity, as well as notions of inner beauty.  A central focus of her work is empowerment through self-representation.

In addition to appearing in solo and group exhibitions in Ontario and abroad, Jordan’s art has been published in the anthology Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, edited by Adebe DeRango-Adem and Andrea Thompson.  Jordan is a recipient of funding from the Ontario Arts Council.

 In 2008, Jordan studied at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto, completing the Drawing curriculum.  In 2007, she graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design, receiving a BFA. While attending OCAD, she participated in the off-campus studies program in Florence, Italy, 2005-2006.

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This residency is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.