Steve Ouditt Proceeds to Mental Health: T&T Art Exhibition explores Mental Illness at Medulla

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Visual artist /designer Steve Ouditt will be exhibiting locally for the first time in 18 years at Medulla Art Gallery in March. The exhibition, Proceeds to Mental Health is a prolific body of work comprising 135 drawings and collages exploring mental illness and its correlating transgressions in daily cognitive perception, social behavior, class, politics and corruption.

Although this is his first local art exhibition since the 1990s, Ouditt has a successful exhibition record abroad since then. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in China, the US, Cuba, Iceland, The Netherlands and other European countries. Notable among them was a presentation at the London Tate Gallery; and exhibitions at the 10th Havana Biennial, Brooklyn Museum of Art and The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland, among others.

His decision to finally have an exhibition in Trinidad was prompted by extensive discussions on the state of mental health in Trinidad and Tobago with long time-friend and colleague Dr. Gerard Hutchinson, Department Head, Clinical Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI. Ouditt realized the alarming extent of how much mental illness is undiagnosed and suppressed in Trinidad and Tobago. Proceeds to Mental Health examines the close relationship between the mind, the artist’s imagination and public engagement.  The resulting works are trajectories of psychiatric disorders ranging from anxieties to unabashed public corruption, proceeding towards mental health.

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Using this body of works as a platform, Ouditt is embarking on a long-term project of social transformation through artistic production and psychiatric sciences with Dr. Hutchinson. As further exemplified by the double entendre title of the Exhibition, Proceeds to Mental Health, Ouditt will donate a percentage of the proceeds of the show  towards a series of non-profit mental health awareness art projects in collaboration with Dr. Hutchinson and other psychiatric experts and artists/designers.

In addition to his art practice, Ouditt is also an art historian, curator and academic. He has been lecturing at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine since 2003, where he is also the creator and coordinator of UWI’s MA in Creative Design Entrepreneurship.  He studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City (BFA Honours); Goldsmiths College in London (MA Distinction); and was a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Holland.  He has lived in the UK where he was Curator of Research and Education at the Institute of International Visual Arts [inIVA] London. He also taught at the Caribbean School of Architecture in Jamaica. He was a visiting lecturer in the Masters Programme in Tropical Architecture at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henrique Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ouditt was also the recipient of significant art and study grants from: the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the Government of India, t he Government of The Netherlands, The Arts Council of England, Goldsmiths College University of London and UNESCO.

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Proceeds to Mental Health runs from March 7 to April 4 at Medulla Art Gallery, on Fitt Street, Woodbrook. Medulla has been steadily earning a reputation as a public exhibition space for showcasing contemporary art works that radically challenge traditional and social perceptions while maintaining high aesthetic value. In Medulla, Geoffrey MacLean, Martin Mouttet and Isabel Brash have created a Gallery to promote art, not only as a social expression, but also as a medium for therapy and growth.

With this exhibition, Medulla Art Gallery continues to carry on and develop the traditions of Aquarela Galleries.

Geoffrey MacLean notes that “Medulla seeks to engage with and educate the public including teachers, students, private and corporate collectors, investors, sponsors, art enthusiasts and media through the development of new innovative programs and initiatives, workshops, artist talks, critical analysis, etc. Partnering with other cultural institutions and organizations on collaborative projects is another important goal. The Proceeds to Mental Health exhibition reflects Medulla’s wish to provide a core space for education through public participation and dialogue with artists”. 

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