In “Jaime Lee Loy Walks the Fine Line between the Familiar and the Unfamiliar in Her Artistic Works” (The Huffington Post) Jacqueline Bishop provides insights to better understand the work of the Trinidadian artist. Many thanks to Loretta Collins Klobah for bringing this item to our attention.
[. . .] Jaime Lee Loy was born on the island of Trinidad and at the tender age of three years she lost a father with whom she remembers being very close. This crucial loss, and the resulting dislocations it would cause in her domestic life, is a theme that the artist returns to in various guises in her work. Early in her career she sought to address the overwhelming loss of her father in a series of powerful charcoal and paint drawings, which were the works that some of her high school teachers found so upsetting and unsettling.
Jaime Lee Loy’s father was a mixture of Chinese and other races, with relatives who came from various parts of the Caribbean. Her mother’s parents, on the other hand, came straight from China, and they would end up opening shops where they would sell preservatives on the island of Trinidad. “My mother was creative and ambitious,” Lee Loy shared with me, “but she never got to express her creativity because she had to stay home and sell in the shops that her family had opened. Consequently, my mother always felt held back.” The artist was quiet, thinking for a while, before continuing. “I guess that is maybe why the theme of the woman held back by family obligations would become so resonant throughout most of my work.”
[. . .] Mental illness is another area the artist would go on to explore. “The stigma of mental illness in the Caribbean is strong and it is enduring,” the artist believes. “In exploring the stigma of mental illness, I ended up doing a sculptural piece on schizophrenia consisting of a woman’s torso with two heads. The two heads are of course representative of the two faces of the illness; one, that at times seems to be comparatively ‘normal’ looking, and the other, an anguished face.
“While I was working on the sculpture, and trying to explain to others and myself what I was doing, I started probing the various uses of the word ‘crazy’. This probing around that word and its many manifestations and iterations specific to Trinidadian society would end up in me doing a video piece entitled Crazy which examines the many culturally loaded meanings of that word.”
The artist continues, “I guess you can say that I am fascinated not only by boundaries and limits and definitions and silences, but, as well, by crossing and indeed breaking boundaries.” [. . .]