Casa Tomada Promotes ‘fresh casa’


The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., in collaboration with Casa Tomada of Sao Paulo, Brazil present fresh casa which will take place in Sao Paulo from September 14th – 21st 2013.

Participating artists include Shanika Grimes and Katherine Kennedy from Barbados, and Flora Leite from Brazil.  As well as a week of taking part in a mentoring programme and interacting with the Brazilian arts scene, the three artists will be presenting their work at Casa Tomada on Friday, September 20th at 7:00 pm.


Additionally, Barbadian artist Evan Avery has designed a graphic to be installed as an adhesive decal as a part of Casa Tomada’s A Casa Recebe project – a street facing window which presents works by visual artists working in Brazil and internationally. This work will be on display until March 2014.

Thanks to the Arts and Sport Promotion Fund, The Ministry of Finance, Barbados for supporting this project.

The NCF and Fresh Milk in collaboration with Casa Tomada present ‘fresh casa’

fresh casa flyer - English

The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., in collaboration with Casa Tomada of Sao Paulo, Brazil present fresh casa which will take place in Sao Paulo from September 14th – 21st 2013. The project has three goals. Firstly, two young Barbadian artists, Shanika Grimes and Katherine Kennedy will participate in a mentoring programme hosted by Casa Tomada and focussing on the professionalization of artists, which will see the presentation of their art work as the focus of their one week intensive residency experience.

Grimes and Kennedy will be mentored by Brazilian arts professionals including professors, curators and critics, who are regularly engaged with Sao Paulo based creatives who focus on Performance Art, Sculpture and Installation. In addition, the young Barbadian artists will interact with Brazilian artists currently working out of Casa Tomada. At the end of the week, the Barbadian artists will make an oral presentation about their practice to a local Brazilian audience.

Secondly, Barbadian artist Evan Avery will design a graphic to be installed as an adhesive decal into Casa Tomada’s ‘A Casa Recebe’ – a street facing window which presents works by visual artists working in Brazil and internationally.

Thirdly, in a programme designed collaboratively by Fresh Milk and Casa Tomada for senior officials at the NCF, the artists will visit contemporary art spaces and meetcritics, gallerists and curators, allowing both the officials and the artists to gain an understanding of the contemporary art space in Sao Paulo. For example, they will attend the opening of ‘30 x bienal- Transformations in Brazilian art from the 1st to the 30th edition’ at Parque Ibirapuera, the home of the Sao Paulo Bienal.  Visits to contemporary commercial galleries, informal artist led initiatives, as well as museums, will form part of the dynamic programme.

Finally, a tour of Videobrasil will be coordinated for NCF delegates and the young artists. Videobrasil was present at the recently hosted e-Create symposium in Barbados last April. They are dedicated to the fostering, dissemination and mapping of contemporary art, as well as the public cultural promotion and exchange between artists, curators and researchers. Videobrasil devotes special attention to the production of the geopolitical South and supports an active network of international corporations which now include working with Barbadian entities to open up opportunities for Caribbean creatives.

Delegates from the NCF include the Chief Cultural Officer, Mrs Andrea Wells, Corporate Communications Specialist Ms Simone Codrington and Senior Business Development Officer, Ms Alison Sealy-Smith. fresh casa is funded by the Art and Sport Promotion Fund, Ministry of Finance, Barbados.

About Shanika Grimes:

shanika portrait

Shanika Grimes completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Barbados Community college in 2012, while juggling the birth of her now two year old son. She displayed a proficiency in the arts from a very young age despite the pull of the business oriented society in which she lives. Shanika works in a variety of two dimensional formats and has more recently extended her practice to the realm of performance art, which is documented and presented through video or photography. She has acquired several gold and silver awards and a nomination for the Prime Minister’s award at Barbados’ national fine arts competition NIFCA. She focuses on an examination of self, which she uses as a catalyst for a barrage of ideas including, but not limited to, gender, culture and relationships.

In January 2013, she took part in a residency at Alice Yard, Trinidad, where she was paired with Trinidadian performance artist Michelle Isava and produced work individually and collaboratively.

About Katherine Kennedy:

katherine kennedy portrait

Katherine Kennedy is an artist and writer. She graduated from Lancaster University, UK with a degree in Creative Arts; her combined major of Fine Art and Creative Writing helped develop her keen interests in both visual and literary pursuits. She has won multiple awards for her artwork and writing in her home Barbados, and has exhibited internationally in London. Since returning home, she has remained immersed in creativity, completing a local artist residency, contributing to ARC Magazine by writing for their online forum and assisting the Editor-In-Chief, and working with the Fresh Milk Art Platform as Assistant to Director. Her visual practice is heavily tied to a sense of place, and often deals with interplay between found organic and inorganic objects, used as a way of asserting cultural identity in different environments.

Katherine travelled to the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), Curaçao in November 2012 to take part in a two week collaborative project between the IBB and Fresh Milk, and undertook a residency at The Vermont Studio Center in May 2013.

About Evan Avery:

evan avery portrait

Evan Avery is a young, Barbadian artist and a 2012 graduate of the Barbados Community College, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. His primary medium is acrylic paint; working with flat, bright colours, he creates compositions with his original characters ‘the Miniis’, which he uses to represent himself or others, as well as events or things of significance in his life. He says there is “no right or wrong way” to read his work, as he wants the viewer to exercise their own imagination in their interpretation:  “The best part about being given an image without a story is in making your own. I create the work for me; it’s up to you to make it yours.”

Evan hopes to create a business, transferring his characters and ideas onto clothing and other objects as a means to share the ‘Miniis’ with people all over the world. “Miniis make people smile, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.”

About Casa Tomada 

Created in October 2009, Casa Tomada is an independent spaced dedicated to practice, investigation and reflections of artistic nature. The project emerged from the desire to build a space that was a convergence point among the various fields in arts, discussing the hybridism of languages in the contemporary artistic processes. Focused in all the process of production and not just the final artistic product, Casa Tomada encourages the debate of young contemporary art, not only stimulating the development of artistic and theoretical work motivated by the shared experience, but acting as a catalyst space of experiences of connection among artists, art thinkers and other independent initiatives. Casa Tomada’s projects include:

Open Studio: Semester program for young artists and researchers (art criticism, curatorship and art history focus). The program proposes interchange among artists and art thinkers, stimulating one another in their own art production.

The House Hosts: A program that stimulates the interchange of independent art spaces and promotes the broadcasting of artistic publications. It has the objective enhance the relationship networks of these artistic centers with independent ones.

Portfolio’s Cycle: Annual program in which young artists and researchers currently performing in Sao Paulo are invited to present their portfolios taking advantage of the informal infrastructure of Casa Tomada for an open discussion. 

About 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.

About the NCF

The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament in 1983. Its mandate is to oversee the cultural landscape of Barbados.

Mission: To fuel the development of culture through training, research and the creation of opportunities in cultural industries.

The Role of the NCF: The NCF’s two major roles are: developmental and commercial. In its developmental role, the Foundation uses culture as a tool for national development, fostering and supporting the various art forms and new cultural products. In its commercial role, the Foundation is responsible for the promotion, production and hosting of cultural festivals and associated events.

Fresh Performance Chapter 4: Performing Love

FRESH MILK in collaboration with Damali Abrams presents Chapter 4 in the Fresh Performance Project: Performing Love

Is there anything left to be said about love that hasn’t already been said? Poets and songwriters have been trying to pin down an apt way to describe love for centuries. Yet that doesn’t stop each generation from making an attempt. Some see love as hokey, trite or cliche and may think that it has no place in contemporary art.

Shanika Grimes and Shani Peters address love in their work in somewhat different ways. Shanika’s work explores familial love from the point of view of a young wife and mother, while Shani’s work is more about her love of Black people and communal progress.

Though Shanika had a wonky internet connection , we had an engaging conversation where she described becoming a wife and mother at age 20. Rather than merely sinking under the weight of these hefty roles, Shanika transformed her circumstances into transcendent art. I think that this demonstrates a great self-love as well. As artists many times our practice is what helps us to cope with situations in our lives that we may not feel equipped to handle otherwise.

Shanika beautifully articulates the pressures of a woman in the Caribbean who chooses to marry and have children. She makes important connections between patriarchy, misogyny, corporal punishment and spousal abuse. Shanika makes it easy to see that when women are viewed as merely food dispensers or the property of their family, it creates an environment where men feel comfortable abusing them (as well as their children).

I chose Shani for this chapter of the documentary because of her amazing project called ‘We Promote Knowledge and Love.’ For this interventionist performance, Shani  and her enlisted volunteers don sandwich boards with the words “We Promote Knowledge and Love” emblazoned on them and hand out fliers with inspirational quotes from legendary thought leaders like Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X. I have participated in this performance in Brooklyn as well as in Harlem for the African American Day Parade and I must say that it is truly a labor of love. Many NYC residents are familiar with the sandwich board flier distributors with fliers that read “We Buy Gold and Diamonds” who work for local pawn brokers. Shani remixed this idea with her own sandwich board performance. During our candid conversation in her Harlem studio, Shani spoke about social justice and activism as acts of love.

It was interesting editing these two artists together and seeing the connections between romantic love, maternal love and love of community. 

Damali Abrams

About Shanika Grimes:

Shanika Grimes completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Barbados Community college, while juggling the birth of her now two year old son. She displayed a proficiency in the arts from a very young age despite the pull of the business oriented society in which she lives. Shanika works in a variety of two dimensional formats and has more recently extended her practice to the realm of performance art, which is documented and presented through video or photography. She focuses on an examination of self, which she uses as a catalyst for a barrage of ideas including, but not limited to, gender, culture and relationships.

About Shani Peters:

Shani Peters is a New York based artist (born in Lansing, MI) working in video, collage, printmaking, and social practice public projects. Her work reflects interests in activism histories, cultural record keeping, media culture, and community building. Peters completed her B.A. at Michigan State University and her M.F.A. at The City College of New York. She has exhibited, screened and/or presented her work in the US and broad, including exhibitions at the Schomburg Center for Black Culture and Research, Bronx Museum of Art, Rush Arts Gallery, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Savannah College of Art & Design, The Contact Theatre (UK), and Seoul Art Space Geumcheon (SK).

She has participated in multiple residencies including programs hosted by The Center for Book Arts, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Counsel, the Lower East Side Printshop, the Bronx Museum of Art’s Artist in the Marketplace program, and apexart’s Outbound Residency to Seoul S. Korea. Peters has taught extensively throughout her Harlem community as an educator and program designer working in New York Public Schools, Harlem Textile Works, Casita Maria Arts Education Inc., The Laundromat Project, and as a social justice arts education adjunct lecturer at The City College of New York.

A Performative Moment – Presentation for Northern Kentucky University

On Thursday May 16th, FRESH MILK presented a programme to group of visiting students from the department of theatre and dance at Northern Kentucky University, USA. Presentations were made by Barbadian artists Ewan Atkinson, Sheena Rose and Shanika Grimes, local playwright, actor and artist in residence Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell, our two international resident artists Marla Botterill and Conan Masterson, and our off-site resident artist Damali Abrams who joined us via skype. All of the participants engaged in discussion with the students on performance, and the many forms it can take in the arts.

All photographs taken by Mark King.

FRESH MILK’s Presentation for the e-CREATE Barbados Symposium 2013

Annalee Davis introducing FRESH MILK

On Friday April 12, FRESH MILK gave a presentation to the visiting delegation of professionals involved in the Brazilian creative industry as part of the e-CREATE Barbados Cultural Industries Symposium and Showcase 2013. The symposium was a three and a half day initiative organized by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Barbados which featured seminars, discussions, and networking opportunities focused particularly on introducing local creatives to the thriving contemporary arts markets opening up in São Paulo, Brazil.

The visiting arts delegates included curator and cultural producer Bel Gurgel, head of marketing and sales at Galeria Millan in São Paulo Vivian Gandelsman, Program Director of Videobrasil Thereza Farkas and Founding Director of Urbanflo Creative Consultancy in the UK Jenni Lewin-Turner. They were greeted at the FRESH MILK studio to freshly baked banana bread and coffee, and then shown to the gallery space to view a few pieces on display before the presentation. Founder of The Fresh Milk Art Platform Annalee Davis introduced the organization, speaking about its mission to support production and excellence in the contemporary arts, notably by giving young emerging talent a nurturing space to create, make connections and circulate innovative ideas. She also shared information and images from FRESH MILK’s programming so far, and some of its upcoming plans.

A few artists who have been involved with FRESH MILK then had the opportunity to present their work, showcasing firsthand some of the local and regional talent being supported. Performance and visual artist Shanika Grimes, visual artist and Assistant to Director at FRESH MILK Katherine Kennedy, artist and photographer Janelle Griffith, artist, educator and board member of FRESH MILK Ewan Atkinson and photographer and fine artist Mark King, who recently completed his residency on the platform, all spoke articulately about their work, while Annalee introduced the work of artists Sheena Rose, Grenadian artist/activist Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe and Versia Harris in their absence. This diverse range of work from gifted artists rounded off  a morning which encompassed what FRESH MILK stands for:  building connections within an inclusive environment in the hopes of broadening our community, and creating opportunities for Caribbean talent in the global arts arena.

We would like to thank the NCF and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for making this event possible, and all of the visiting delegates for coming out to see what Barbados has to offer. We are very excited about the possibilities which have arisen from e-CREATE Barbados, and look forward to strengthening the bonds formed with all of you through reciprocal exchanges in the future.

Photo credit: Mark King, 2013