Ronald Williams’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 3.5 Blog Post

Barbadian artist Ronald Williams, the recipient of the 2018 Fresh Milk ‘My Time’ Local Artist Residency, shares his blog post for the three and a half week mark in the studio. This part of the residency was largely focused on production, taking the research and influences of previous weeks to experiment with pattern-making and digital collage. On Tuesday May 22nd, Ronald also led a collage & portrait workshop with a group of Class 4 students at Workmans Primary School as the community outreach component of his residency, where the children looked at African masks for inspiration and got creative and expressive with materials. Read more below:

Week 3 Monday saw me start what I fully intended to be a productive week in solitude. Both Katherine and Daisy were out at the Barbados Museum and the Jewish Synagogue respectively, so I took advantage of my little alone time and was a DJ for a while. Side note: K. O. D. and Without Warning are hard and I’m a lot late to the party but Migos’ two albums are better than I thought they would be. Judge me.

So, first order of real business was to create the pattern I had in mind. The base design is actually the amalgamation of various prints, cut and pasted together in Photoshop and laid on top of a photo of a piece of black fabric. Took much longer than I needed it to. That base image was then flipped, duplicated, pieced together and the process repeated until I got what I wanted. With that, the day was almost up.

I worked on this piece for the rest of the week, getting lost midway, questioning what exactly I was trying to say with the piece and if I could properly translate how I felt without the reading of it going very left. We’ll see.

Week 4 Monday was spent preparing materials for an African mask inspired portraiture collage project that I, along with Katherine and Daisy, would conduct  with the Class 4 students at Workman’s Primary School the next day. This project, which was my community outreach portion of the residency, was my personal highlight of the last week and a half. Daisy, Katherine and I all ended up making one. It was fun.

All things considered, a relatively complicated week and a half where everything didn’t go to plan, but an ultimately satisfying one.

Thais Francis’ Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Thais Francis shares her fourth and final blog post about her recently completed Fresh Milk residency. Looking back on her time in Barbados, Thais is happy with the the focus that having a dedicated, peaceful working environment has afforded her, as well as the work she was able to do with the children at Workmans Primary School, overall leading to a very productive and inspiring residency period. Read more from Thais below:

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“I heard you on the radio, are you here in Barbados?”

When I saw those words, I felt sad – because the answer was no. I am no longer in Barbados, I am back in America, and maybe I missed my opportunity to sit with you and thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to a world of Caribbean literature, for introducing me to the Orishas and for being a pioneer. Who would have thought my NYU professor from 5 years ago would remember me and even find my email address? Who would’ve known he’d be listening to the radio right at the moment when I came on? He was the person who taught me how to look at words through an Afro-Caribbean point of view, thus shaping the person I am becoming. Kamau Brathwaite great writer and Barbadian, thank you. The next time I’m in Barbados you will not find out through the radio.

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Had it not been for this residency, I would not have known my weaknesses. Have you ever had time to just sit and think? Sit under a tree, and read a book, or write in your journal, without any distractions? Thinking can be quite intense sometimes, but then it can be quite revelatory. You know how Stella went to Jamaica to get her groove back? It felt a little like that – thankfully I’m still young and I have not lost my groove, but I empathize with Stella. I got something in Barbados. I got the ability to fully see and carry on – even in the midst of not knowing. This is beginning to sound like a chapter from Eat Pray Love so I’ll be moving on with my point.

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I have 136 pages of a screenplay. It may be good or it may be bad but I DID IT. I sat down and wrote, even when I was bored I continued, even when I wanted to go to the beach – I did it (sometimes I couldn’t resist the beach though). 136 pages later, I’m ready to continue. Writing a screenplay and seeing that into fruition on a screen seems like a never-ending process, but there is a skeleton, and writing in the studio really helped. Working with the children helped too. I figured I should share my gift. It’s fun to write for your own projects, but even better when you’re able to show kids that art is fun. Playing is fun. Dressing up, saying your name loudly, bowing when your classmates clap, imagining worlds and storytelling is fun. Life should be fun. I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them. I salute teachers. I salute Mrs. Bradshaw and Ms. Gatsby the principal of Workman’s and Annalee and the Fresh Milk team for making the space so aesthetically inviting.

All in all, it was a great experience. My quarter life identity crisis issues have somewhat abated, and now I must proceed. I’ll let you know when the movie comes out. Maybe I’ll have a screening in Barbados. Okay?

Thais Francis’ Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Thais Francis, Trinidad-born, Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary writer and performance artist currently undertaking a Fresh Milk residency, shares her third blog post. Although her week was short as she visited another Caribbean island, she reflects on the importance of working hard without putting too much pressure on yourself. She also takes inspiration from the children participating in her theatre workshop at Workmans Primary School when it comes to being flexible and embracing activities without over-thinking or allowing self-doubt to set in. Read more below:

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This week seems like it went by very quickly. I left the island for a bit, so I did some extra work prior to leaving. Finally, I have a skeleton of the screenplay. A beginning, middle and end. I thought I had to spend every second of my day, working on the script. Sometimes I did it after I left the studio – but I think that waiting, breathing and experiencing also helps the writing process. I’m getting used to the idea of not pressuring myself – glad that memo is sinking in, and
I hope it sticks when I return to the States. This upcoming week is about fine-tuning and serious focus to make it stronger. A psychiatrist in San Francisco who specializes in my subject area has agreed to be my script consultant, so I’ll be sending that over soon-ish.

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This week, I introduced costumes to the students. They adapt so well, I throw things at them, and they jump right in. Isn’t that amazing? How children can jump, or run, or laugh without thinking too much about it? Adults seem to second-guess, and seek permission; when did this carefreeness stop? Why did it stop? I personally prefer to have fun most of the time, even as an adult. We played impersonation games, I wrote scenes and broke them up into groups to perform for each other, and we worked on stage presence.

Fresh Milk welcomes Thais Francis to the platform

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Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome our next artist-in-residence Thais Francis, a Trinidad-born, Brooklyn based multi-disciplinary performance artist and writer who will be joining us from May 18 – June 12, 2015. Thais will use her time on the platform to write her first feature film, as well as conduct a community outreach project with students of Workmans Primary School.

About Thais Francis:

Thais is an actor, dancer, singer, writer, and instrumentalist born in Trinidad and Tobago, and raised in Maryland. She is an alumna of the Tisch School of the Arts, at New York University where she studied Drama. As an actor, she has toured in theater both nationally and internationally.  Her work has been seen at the Historic Warner Theater in Washington DC and Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  She was honored by the Root Magazine as one of the 25 under 25 Top Innovators in America. Her academic writings have been featured at The Prindle Institute for Ethics at Depauw University, presented before the staff of the White House and awarded by the Congressional Black Caucus. She has been a featured speaker alongside Howard Zinn at NYU and is a recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Arts, Performance, and Media NIA Award at NYU.

Her original play OUTCRY has been produced throughout the U.S since its debut in 2012 at NYU and most recently featured in American Theater Magazine.  She has written, produced and starred in her first short film LATE EXPECTATIONS. She currently resides in Brooklyn New York and is working on several scripts for both theater and film as well as music