Caribbean Linked II Artist Blogs: Shirley Rufin

Martinican artist Shirley Rufin shares her blog post about the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Rufin refers to the experience as one of discovery, finding similarity between her new space and her home country while also reveling in the differences. She harnessed this idea of making new connections and linkages in her work – stemming from interactions with her fellow artists and taking inspiration from the Aruban landscape, her final pieces for exhibition interweave organic elements from nature to recreate the human figure.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Shirley Rufin- New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

Shirley Rufin – New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

Caribbean Linked II was a beautiful experience full of meetings, good moments, laughter, dance and especially complicities and creation. The two weeks spent on the island of Aruba at the Ateliers ’89 studios were two weeks of madness and pure happiness. This opportunity allowed me to meet Elvis Lopez, the director of the Ateliers ‘89 and an artist, but before any of that a magnificent person full of kindness. I also had the opportunity to meet local contemporary artists; Nelson Gonzalez, Ciro Abath and his wife, Glenda Heyliger, Osaira Muyale, Ryan Oduber and Alydia Wever, and within that the great gift to also connect with nine very talented artists who splendidly represent their countries and media.

The stay on “One Happy Island” was very enriching because this island is very familiar and close to Martinique due to its climate and population, but still very different in its weather, vegetation, customs and especially the language. I was the French artist of the group, and as I discovered the space, I was able to let go of what I know and remembered to learn to see everything with a new eye full of curiosity.

The day after we arrived we were able to preview a retrospective of Elvis Lopez titled “ISLA” and Nelson Gonzales’ “Identity Pill’ which placed us directly in a bathing pool of curiosity and creation. During our walks exploring the capital of Oranjestad I was able to discover this new place together with Sofia aka Miss Porto Rico, Mark aka Mister Barbados, Rodell aka Mister Trinidad and Tobago, Omar aka Mister Curacao aka Shaggy, and Veronica aka Miss Bahamas aka Scooby. This allowed me to see things which inspired and pleased me. Later that day we welcomed the arrival of Dhiradj aka Mister Suriname, Robin aka Miss Aruba, and finally Germille and Kevin aka Misters Aruba. This led to the completion of the artsts who would comprise the meetings and discovery which is crucial for human and artistic connection on every level. Each of us knew how to encourage and support himself/herself by being interested in the work of each other. The sharing of long breakfasts and lunches, along with improvised dinners and dance parties, solified the connection and provided an outline of the mode of life for each artist.


On our first Thursday we visited the carnival of San Nicolaas and the nightclub run by Bushi. Thanks to Glenda who accompanied us, we were able to have unforgettable moments of laughter with her dance moves amplifying the night. It was a real pleasure to be able to share points of view and ideas with each of the artists present during this residency.

To represent my entire stay I decided to make a proposal motivated by this notion of connection, and what to me was the strongest visual connection; the island’s bare trees that are full of branches that move and twist in every sense and direction. The words creation, link, connection, representation, tree, life, interaction, resemblance, difference, contribution, opportunity, meeting, culture, expansion and many others allowed me to concentrate on a photographic proposal which consisted of four images presenting something organic with fragments of nature ordered to recreate a human figure.  The roots used evoke the notion of earth and ground, of implanting and relation in a certain place.


I wanted to work with the on-the-spot and present elements and within the supporting media, but some challenges came into play and I was aware of some uncertainties with editions, but the end result was very enriching and rewarding. This kind of working was governed by the cohesion of the group and with the collective inspiration and support that everyone lent. With this capacity of emulation I realized that it was something that it is necessary to maintain and to keep forever in order to rise to higher levels in my creative process and to progress.

Shirley Rufin - New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

Shirley Rufin – New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

About Shirley Rufin:

Shirley Rufin is an emerging plastic artist from Martinique. She was born in Paris in 1985 and lives and works in Fort de France, Martinique. Her primary medium is photography, which she utilizes to question the body’s relation to abstraction in ways that offer a reconfigured look at female representation.

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

Caribbean Linked II – Opening Exhibition


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: 

Caribbean Linked II: Artist Residency Programme and Exhibition

caribbean linked

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.

logo 5 agosto 2013

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.