Caribbean Linked II Artist Blogs: Omar Kuwas

Curaçaoan artist Omar Kuwas shares his experience with the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. He speaks about his misadventures leading up to his arrival in Aruba, and how his misfortune led to an unexpected form of bonding with his fellow resident artists. This led him to conclude that although each island in the Caribbean may take pride in their differences, there are some fundamental similarities which continue to ‘link’ us together.

All images courtesy of the artist.

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Traveling to Aruba for Caribbean Linked II would mark the second time I’ve traveled to the country. It is a trip that I’ve only done once before about three years ago despite having lived for more than 20 years on neighboring Curacao hardly 20 minutes away by plane. As such I was looking forward to the trip knowing that this time around I would have more time to explore the island; as last time I was here for barely three days.

This trip would also be both the first time that I participate in any kind of residency program and an exhibition supporting Caribbean works. I’m quite familiar with the workings of both, yet normally from the side of the facilitator being an employee of the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) on Curacao.

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I knew from the get go that by extension of my line of work –analog pinhole photography– there would be some possibilities for things to go slightly askew based on what was planned. What I didn’t expect though, was for these deviations to start before I left Curacao. Due to a pretty interesting accumulation of unfortunate events, which included me forgetting my passport for the first time ever, and one of the local aviation companies going bankrupt the weekend before the North Sea Jazz Festival, one of the largest on the island and no mention of a check-in time anywhere on my ticket (or online for that matter), led to the loosing of my scheduled flight to Aruba.

A nice conversation with the company representative resulted in a rescheduled flight,  this was postponed to the last flight of the day as all of the earlier flights were fully booked with stranded travelers trying to get to their destinations and connecting flights.

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Taking this situation in good stride, I decided to make good use of my free day to relax, have a nice Colombian lunch, nap and dispatch of as many clay pigeons as I could find time for. All of which were welcomed activities after a couple of intense weeks rushing to have all my work done in time for Aruba, while also managing the projects that I would be absent for at the IBB as the new school year started on the 2nd of September. At the end of the laxed day I showed up on time with my passport and boarded a surprisingly short flight to Aruba for Caribbean Linked II.

Little did I know that my misadventures with air travel to Aruba wouldn’t be a unique experience. It marked the start of a whole lot of similarities between the different islands that we would figure out during our increasingly longer nightly “linkings”.

If there is one single thing that I will take away from this experience, it’s that while there is great diversity and much pride among the islands in the Caribbean for not being the same as each other, we are more alike than I’m afraid we will ever be comfortable admitting.

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About Omar Kuwas:

Born on June 28, 1985. Graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication & Multimedia Design with minors in software engineering and photography from The Hague University of applied sciences in The Netherlands. Has been involved with ArteSwa and Instituto Buena Bista since 2007 and been working there full time doing IT, design and teaching (analog) photography since 2009.

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 takes place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Caribbean Linked II – Opening Exhibition

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On Thursday, September 5th, 2013 from 8pm, the Ateliers ’89 in Orajanestad, Aruba welcomes the Aruban public to the Caribbean Linked II Opening Exhibition featuring new works by: Shirley Rufin (Martinique) | Veronica Dorsett (The Bahamas) | Sofia Maldonado (Puerto Rico/Cuba) | Mark King (Barbados) | Rodell Warner (Trinidad & Tobago) | Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname) | Omar Kuwas (Curacao) | Germille Geerman ( Aruba) | Robin de Vogel (Aruba) and Kevin Schuit (Aruba).

There will be an opening performance by Gang di Arte and this event is held in collaboration with ARC Magazine, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc, The Instituto Buena Bista, Studio O, Caribbean TV and San Nicolass TV.

The exhibition Halls are located at the Aterliers ’89 Foundation, Dominicanessenstr. 34, Oranjestad, Aruba. For more information call 565 4613.

Major sponsor of this event is the Mondriaan Foundation.

RSVP to attend here: http://on.fb.me/17CQHIH 

Caribbean Linked II: Artist Residency Programme and Exhibition

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Ateliers ’89 Foundation and the Mondriaan Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. present CARIBBEAN LINKED II, a residency programme and exhibition which will take place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Invited Artists include: Omar Kuwas (Curaçao), Veronica Dorsett (The Bahamas), Mark King (Barbados), Shirley Rufin (Martinique), Sofia Maldonado (Puerto Rico/US), Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname), Rodell Warner (Trinidad and Tobago), Robin de Vogel, Kevin Schuit and Germille Geerman (Aruba). The selected artists were chosen collaboratively by Annalee Davis, Holly Bynoe and Elvis Lopez.

Caribbean Linked II will be held in association with Studio O, Terafuse, Museo Arqueologico Arubano, UNOCA, San Nicolas TV, Departamento di Cultura, SVE TV, Alydia Wever Theatre Dance Company and Gang di Arte Aruba.

Most popular through Facebook and social media platforms, to be linked or to be connected is the world’s most common way to be associated right now. This residency and exhibition will present young talent while raising issues of their collective futures by discussing the survival of artists, and the sustainability of local creative communities that nurture their development and maintain their connectivity. This residency becomes a crucial space for building awareness across disparate creative communities in the Caribbean and its diaspora by finding ways to connect young and emerging artists with each other. Selected participants will engage in two weeks of open discussion and critiques, various professional workshops, visit established local artists’ studios and better understand the creative cultural industries that propel Aruban art. An exhibition of work produced during the residency will be displayed at Ateliers ’89 and will open on September 5th.

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Collaborating local artists include Alydia Wever, Ciro Abath, Evelino Fingal, Glenda Heyliger, John Freddy Montoya, Marian Abath, Nelson Gonzales, Osaira Muyale and Ryan Oduber. Collaborating partner professionals and institutions include Vivi Ruiz of the Archaeology Museum of Aruba, Lupita Giel of UNOCA and Siegfried Dumfries of the Department of Culture.

Participating institutions include:

ARC Magazine

ARC Magazine is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform founded in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas. ARC’s mission is to build awareness by fostering exchanges and opportunities that expand creative culture, within the visual arts industry across the wider Caribbean and its diasporas.

Fresh Milk

The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. is a Caribbean non-profit, artist-led, inter-disciplinary organization that supports creatives and promotes wise social, economic, and environmental stewardship through creative engagement with society and by cultivating excellence in the arts. The idea for Fresh Milk developed over years of conversations with other practicing artists around the need for artistic engagement amongst contemporary practitioners living and working in Barbados, with an expressed need to strengthen links with the region and the diaspora. Fresh Milk bridges the divides between creative disciplines, generations of creatives, and works across all linguistic territories in the region – functioning as a cultural lab, constantly redefining itself. The platform transforms into a gathering space for contemporary creatives who are thirsty to debate ideas and share works through local and international residencies, lectures, screenings, workshops, exhibitions, projects etc.

Ateliers ‘89

The Foundation ‘Ateliers ’89’ offers Arubans and others interested from the Caribbean region an orientation on contemporary applied art and design. Workshops in different disciplines as painting, installations, video-art, photography, drawing, fashion, theatrical-design, ceramics, animation, graphic design and history of art are organized in a spacious, open and comfortable setting. Established foreign and local artist teach at the studio’s. Every workshop culminates in an exhibition which is open to the public. Furthermore, there are special workshops and tours of the exhibitions for children and young students. Ateliers ’89 works in close cooperation with a number of art academies in the Netherlands. This way, young talents who started off in the workshops of Ateliers ’89 can easily find their way to a Dutch academy.