Emancipation is defined as, “the act of setting free from slavery, servitude, and or restraint; deliverance from bondage or controlling influence; liberation.” Between 1833 and 1863 people of African descent across what was the old British empire, North and South America were released from the physical restraints of slavery and servitude. In less than 200 years the progeny of those emancipated people has been reclaiming their rights, identities and cultures in the presence of the many police and control systems that remain.
I’m reminded of the Bob Marley lyric, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” It is a continuous struggle to educate and illuminate those who deny the reality of the latent bigotry and racism which remains in our societies today. Barbados is no stranger to this struggle, as we recently saw with the public outcry for the removal of Lord Nelson’s statue from the nation’s capital. Symbolism though it is, the statue’s subsequent removal was a measure of success for ‘people power’.
In June 2021, the US Congress passed legislation to establish June 19, Juneteenth as a new Federal Holiday. Juneteenth was celebrated within the African American community ‘forever’ since 1865 as it is the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln reached the enslaved of Texas; some two years after the Proclamation was made. It the day all the enslaved in the US finally were released from that bondage and servitude. This unprecedented acknowledgment is arguably the result of ‘people power’ too; consistent lobbying and perseverance by a dedicated group of people who were finally able to convince legislators of the significance of it all. It is undeniable that the influences of the Black Lives Matter movement, ongoing reparations discussions, and other movements for social justice have continued to make their case across the Caribbean, the Americas and beyond.
The curatorial team challenged the artists to examine those issues and themes from their perspective. Then we encouraged, reviewed, and supported the amazing genius and creativity of these 17 artists. It is an exciting and eclectic array of creative energy on exhibit at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts this summer. It represents a collective reflection of where Barbadian society has been, where we are today, and where we want to go in the future.
African American artist, author and curator, Dr. Samella Lewis, said it best, “Art is not a luxury as many people think – it is a necessity. It documents history – it helps educate people and stores knowledge for generations to come.”
Anderson M. Pilgrim – Lead Curator
Oneka Small – Curator
Shane Eastmond - Curator
Meet The Artists
Noted independent curator Anderson M. Pilgrim is President of Diaspora Now Inc., an artist management and exhibition production company; as well as Executive Director of Caribbean Fine Art Fair Barbados, the Caribbean’s only fine art fair held within the region. Mr. Pilgrim grew up on the island of Barbados where he attended Harrison College, and began his career in the arts. During summer 1981, he was part of the stage management of (CARIFESTA) Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts, the preeminent regional arts festival, which was held in Barbados on that occasion. He later attended Baruch College of the City University of New York, graduating with honors in Marketing and Business Management. As US representative for Barbados Investment & Development Corp.’s US Market Development Program from 1999-2008, Mr. Pilgrim was instrumental in developing and propelling the careers of many of the country’s creative talents in the areas of art, fine craft, and fashion. His booth designs and presentations have won several awards over the years including Best In Show, Manchester Art Show, CT; and The Kuumba Award for Booth Design-First & Second Prizes, International Black Buyers & Manufacturers Expo, Washington DC.
Barbadian artist and curator Oneka Small was born to a family of creatives. In 1991 she gained a Barbados Exhibition scholarship with an A in art under the tutalege of artist Nick Whittle. Oneka attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and while taking foundation courses in art she graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Environmental Planning before returning home to Barbados. Oneka worked in the environment field professionally and continued her art on the side. Art was however always in her heart so when the Curator of the Barbados Gallery of Art asked Oneka to work for them she left the environmental field and returned professionally to art at the administrative and curatorial level. Since then, Oneka has traveled across Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Thailand, and China in her quest for cultural knowledge. In 2002 she completed a Master’s degree in Museum and Exhibition design at the Hull School of Architecture.
Shane Eastmond is a 27-year-old visual artist. He was born in Jamaica, however, raised in Barbados. Shane has always possessed a love for creating from a very young age. Since then, he has experimented with various types of visual art and with tremendous success, Shane continues to push the envelope of what is possible with talent, acrylic paint and ink. Today, he has mastered a style of his own, using primarily ink, acrylic paint, and other unique materials to create intricate freehand lines and patterns to produce complex forms. Shane’s experiments incorporate unique textures, colors and use of line work. He is a storyteller unlike any other with works of art that continually evoke emotion with its immersive aesthetic.
Kenneth Blackman’s early training as a carpenter is a natural precursor to his development as a sculptor. During the 1980s, Black embarked on a journey in search of his identity. He read books about his African heritage and took a closer look at the work of Barbadian artist. The music of Bob Marley touched his soul and the work of Grafton Woodpecker (a fellow sculptor) inspired his hands to creativity. Black does not talk much about his technique, but he has stated that his subjects derive from early life experiences and the people around him. He uses his work to comment on social issues and to make statements reflecting his cultural heritage. He is a firm believer in peer group support and he believes that artist should present a united professional front. A true patriot and regionalist, Black is of the opinion that Barbadian and Caribbean art can hold their own in any part of the world. He also believes that there is a Caribbean art style identifiable by its use of colour and light. This award-winning artist stands tall on the local scene. That his work can be found in private collections all over the world attest to the growing recognition he enjoys, an honour he richly deserves.
Caribbean-American, anthropologist, researcher, and award-winning interdisciplinary artist Alexis Alleyne-Caputo lives and works in Miami, Florida, and New York. She received her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Goddard College and holds a Master of Arts (MA) and Bachelor of Science (BS/MA dual studies) from New York University. She is engaged in research in the Caribbean region. Her visual narratives include architecture, mixed media collage, painting, photography, sculpture, and film. The intersections of her artistic practice explore themes of black female identity, black feminisms, critical black studies, oceanic studies, familial and cultural kinship, social justice, and art education and reparations.
Selected solo exhibitions are Colonial Currents: Black Women, Water, Trauma, and Baptism (2020, 2021), Black Acoustic Narratives (2018), "Art Transforming Trauma" (2017). Selected group exhibitions are Bakanal De Afrique & Afro Urban Society (2020), "Latin American Art Pavilion Project (LAAP) - DOCUMENTA III” (2019), “Cri de Femmes – Outremer 2019 à’ Paris, A l’ Assemblée Nationale” Paris, France (2019). She has received fellowships, residencies, and awards from Bakanal De Afrique & Afro Urban Society (2020), Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2020), Yarde Girl PHILANTHROPY-Barbados (2020), UNLIMITED BODIES: PERFORMA Biennial, NY (2019), CATALYST Miami (2019) and the Artist Certificate of Appreciation from the Miami-Dade County Office of The Mayor & County Commissioners (2016).
Shain "Rudy" Clarke
Barbadian native Shain Clarke, professionally known as Rudy, is a self-taught visual artist. Rudy, born in the 90’s has been heavily influenced by pop culture comic strips, graffiti and advertisements. His work explores the juxtaposition of these elements. Rudy develops his concepts by examining the possibilities of finding new within the old and using nostalgia as a form of time travel in hopes of connecting viewers to forgotten memories and emotions.
A graduate of the Barbados Community College’s Fine Art Course, Doreen Edward has explored art through the lens of a writer. She incorporates ‘African’ fabrics into her works, stitching it onto the canvas by hand, or applying thread in the pattern of a web. Each piece is a narrative, an expression of a concept close to her heart like Amie Cesare’s Negritude but examining it through a female Afro-Caribbean lens, or on her own stories and poems. Text is often at the centre of her art for it is her first love and first inclination to pick up the pen before the brush.
Alanis Forde is a contemporary Barbadian artist who specializes in expressionistic realism portraiture. She works mainly with oil paint and collage. Alanis attended the Barbados community College and attained her bachelor’s degree in Studio art. She’s been in a number of group exhibitions at The Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Vermont Studio Center, Gallo Family Gallery at Strohl Art Center in New York along with a few other non-conventional spaces. Forde has just completed her second residency at the Chautauqua Institution Visual Arts Program of June 2020. In the years she’s been creating, Alanis’ concepts are based primarily on the black female identity in an idealized, exotic, paradisiacal Caribbean space. Through her proxy she navigates life through paradise.
Versia Abeda Harris
Versia Harris lives and works in Barbados where she received her BFA in Studio Art, at the Barbados Community College in 2012. She has participated in a number of residencies in the Caribbean and North and South America. Versia’s work was featured in the IV Moscow International Biennial for Young Art themed ‘A Time for Dreams’ and her animation “They say You Can Dream A Thing More Than Once” won Best New Media Film at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in 2014 and Best Animated Short, the following year at the Barbados Film and Video Association Festival. She began teaching at The Barbados Community College in 2015 and in that same year she had her first solo show titled “This Quagmire”. In 2017, she was awarded a Fulbright Laspau Scholarship and received her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, USA in May 2019, where she also earned a Mercedes-Benz Financial Services New Beginnings Award. She has since exhibited work in Michigan, San Francisco, London, China, Nigeria and online with re.riddle for Ars Electronica 2020 and PRIZM Art Fair 2020.
Ras Ilix Heartman
Ras Ilix Heartman, wood sculptor and farmer, was born in Barbados. His first international exposure was at the Third Havana Biennial in Cuba which was followed by the “In The Spirit Festival" at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, Since then his work has been exhibited at numerous exhibitions in Barbados and in the U.S. His sculpture Melchizedek was awarded "Best In Show" at the 1997 Black History Month Exhibition held at New York’s Hintersteiner Gallery in Washington Heights. Ras Ilix’ 2012 solo show received critical acclaim at the Queen’s Park Gallery in Barbados. Since then, he has exhibited his work at the Caribbean Fine Art Fair as well as several group exhibitions at home and abroad. His sculptures are a part on many private and public collections including the Barbados National Collection.
Ras is currently completing a residency at CMCArts in partnership with CHANT.
This award-winning artist fell in love with the manipulation of fabric at the age of 14. She has since evolved into someone who is constantly seeking new ways to push the limits of her medium. The surface design techniques she employs include tie dye, batik, hand painting, three-dimensional embroidery, fabric collage, fabric sculpture, applique, reverse applique, embroidery and many more. This self-taught artist is inspired by Barbados’ beautiful landscape and the fragments of our rich African heritage which have survived, and she frequently expressed these ideas in clothing and accessories, home decor items, wall hangings and sculpture. She pushes the boundaries of her medium when she crafts pieces for exhibition and therefore makes a point to enter shows held at many of the island’s art galleries.
Jason Hope is a Fine Artist, Sculptor and Painter. He is a polymath, honing a diversity of skills which he uses in the execution his work. This gives his creations the cutting edge, as he is able to incorporate a variety of mediums and techniques in any one piece. His intuition guides his process and gives him a flexibility of expression. Jason’s artistic talents were cultivated and mentored by both Nick and Janice Whittle. He pursued an associate degree in Fine Art at the Barbados Community and completed an MSc in Construction Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from The University of The West Indies. This varied approach to academics is also reflected in his Art. He has won numerous awards at the National level, including the prestigious Governor General Award at NIFCA and the Governor of the Central Bank Award in the Crop Over Visual Arts Exhibition. Jason Hope has had tremendous success as a sculptor completing notable commissions such as The Statue of the Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Walcott, the bust of Cecil DeCaires located in the DeCaires building in Wildey and most recently statue of the of Rt. Hon. Sir Wes Hall unveiled in 2020.
Juliana Inniss is an Afro-Caribbean female potter. Historically she comes from a centuries old pottery making tradition, where pottery is made mostly by women, by hand, burnished and fired in the simplest of kilns. For Juliana, each of these techniques create tension between accident and control and this is where the learning and the fun take place and keep drawing you back to the experience of the fire. She explores to improve her understanding of alternative firing techniques. Juliana is especially drawn to Raku, Naked Raku, Saggar and Sawdust firings. They are all done at low temperatures between 850°C to 950˚C and require interaction and involvement with the fire. She is constantly experimenting and developing her technique. All of her work is handmade. She continues to investigate the idea of ancestral memory, as it relates to the tradition of pottery making and the struggles of women in post-colonial Caribbean society. Juliana has won numerous awards at the National level, has pieces within the National Art Gallery Collection, and was commissioned to do a representation of one of the National Heroes in the National Heroes Gallery of Barbados.
An accomplished painter and photographer, Oluyemi Legall received his art education at the Barbados Community College and the Detroit Jazz Centre Artistic Exchange Programme, A veteran of exhibitions in his native Barbados, Oluyemi has also shown his art in the U.S., Canada, Cuba and Austria. Among his exhibition credits are the Third Havana Biennial, 479 Gallery, Soho, NYC, and Ifetayo Cultural Center, Brooklyn, NY. The recipient of several awards and distinctions in National Art Exhibitions, Oluyemi's work is held in private collections in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, as well as the collections of Barbados Government House, the Barbados Tourism Authority, and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Sian Pampellonne is a Trinidad-born artist of Barbadian parentage who is currently a resident of Barbados. Coming from a family deeply connected to the process of creativity in a variety of disciplines, she studied art at the Barbados Community College gaining a further wealth of its' intricacies under the tutelage of her grandfather, Gordon Parkinson, whose body of work is well-known to collectors. Entering the world of Mass Communication, Sian now owns a very successful Advertising Studio, Sian In Design Inc. An avid art collector, she rekindled her love of painting a year ago, purely as an outlet for self-expression. Using Acrylics on canvas and mixed media, Sian is able to convey her feelings through a freedom of hand and brush that unleashes vibrant colours onto canvas extricating at the same time deep feelings from her subjects that leave the admirer delving into their own interpretation of the bold art she has produced - the main reason her pieces have found themselves in the homes of art collectors internationally in such a short space of time. An artist to watch, her creations show a fresh interpretation of painting while expressing a signature style.
Gail Pounder Speede’s paintings, prints and installations have gained her increasing notice in her native Barbados, as well as abroad. Since graduating with her Bachelors in Fine Art Degree from the Barbados Community College in 1998 she has completed post graduate studies at the University of Leicester, UK. Pounder-Speede’s work has been showcased in notable exhibitions in Barbados, The United States, England, France, Belgium and in Suriname as part of a Barbados contingent to CARIFESTA. Her creations are expressive and idiosyncratic and are further enhanced by her multimedia skills. Her artist statement reads in part, “my pieces relate to each other, forming an environmental installation: a soft passionate painful journey into the heart of a life. The art may exist on its own for it will have its own story, yet the pilgrimages create a scrap book of travels. The journey continues with each new horizon.”
Ras Akyem I Ramsay
A graduate of Jamaica’s Edna Manley School of Art, multi-talented Barbadian artist Ras Akyem I is a veteran exhibitor throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, England, and the U.S. In 1996 Ras Akyem's paintings won the Gold Medal at the Third Biennial of Caribbean and Latin American Painting, held in Santo Domingo, and was part of the collective submission by Barbadian artists which won the Country Gold Medal. During 1995-1997 Ras Akyem successfully completed postgraduate studies at Cuba’s prestigious art academy, the University of Superior Arts (ISA). His work has been published and discussed in such publications as “Barbadian Art: What Kind of Mirror Image?”, and “Caribbean Art”, by Veerle Poupeye. In 1998 he was awarded the Barbados Service Star in that year’s Barbados Independence Honors. Ras Akyem I is the recipient of the 2012 Caribbean Luminary of the Arts Award. His paintings, prints, sculptures, and installations can be found in numerous private and public collections.
“My interests lie in the use of art, texture and colour within the health, community and corporate setting. I have exhibited widely in the UK, both solo and group work. More recently working on the use of sculpture, collage work, poetry and altered art. As an Artist, I am keen to explore how art and creativity can be used in different settings, and how we use creative expression as a means of communication. I am very interested in colour and texture and use a variety of techniques and mediums in creating images. I have worked extensively with the elderly with dementia and look at ways in which we can find ways for them to explore their creativity in a relaxed and un-judged environment.”
Mixed Media on Canvas
50" x 60"
Acrylic and Collage on Canvas
25" x 26"
The Island Of Great Tribulation
Oil on Canvas 30" x 48"
Mixed Media Sculpture
10" x 6"
Moving Forward Looking Back
Mixed Media Sculpture
14" x 7.5"
Acrylic and Fabric
24" x 18"
Masked Faces (Our People)
Acrylic on Canvas
30" x 39"
Survival Endures (Queens)
Acrylic on Canvas
15" x 20"
Save My Body (Our Kings)
Acrylic on Canvas
15" x 20"
She Blood Run Deep
Oil on Canvas
30" x 30"
Mixed Media Installation
72" x 48"
Kenneth "Black" Blackman
Nubian Woman - Bantu Knots
Kenneth "Black" Blackman
The Girl Next Door
Kenneth "Black" Blackman
Mixed Media Fabric
Mixed Media Fabric
Mixed Media Fabric
Outside De Old Slave Hut
20.75" x 16.75"
Standpipe In Spruce Street
23" x 18"
Oil on Canvas
36" x 48"
Ras Ilix Heartman
Shaman In Exile