Artist Nneka Jones uses condoms to raise awareness


I was deeply touched by this article on Trinidadian artist Nneka Jones. The poignancy and courage of her work reminds me of the late Tony Capellán (Dominican Republic), an artist I deeply admired for bringing attention to the AIDS pandemic with his earlier work, such as “Manto protector” (made of condoms, wire, and wood) and, more recently, to migration and climate change, with his plastic installations. In “At 22, this Caribbean is using condoms to paint sexual abuse victims to raise awareness,” Ama Nundo (Face 2 Face Africa) reviews Nneka Jones’s work and efforts to bring attention to sexual abuse victims. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

For some Africans and Caribbean children deciding to take up a career in the creatives or even take it up as course to study in school, can sometimes drive a wedge between the child and their parents. Only a few lucky ones get the full backing of their family and Nneka Jones is one such lucky child.

The 22-year-old artist from Trinidad and Tobago took a chance to pursue her passion for art and it is paying off as her recent works are a mixture of contemporary portraiture fused with media artwork that have an embedded message pertaining to social issues, Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reports.

Jones has always come top of her art classes and with her family’s blessing she is a Bachelor of Fine Arts major with a Marketing minor at the University of Tampa, set to graduate in May 2020.

Her feature on NowThis highlighted her pieces with over 300 condoms adhered to a canvass and hand embroidery that could pass off as oil painting to speak out against sex trafficking and rape. She intends for her pieces to lend a voice to the victims.

Touched by the stories of victims of abuse, her art series ‘Target’ zooms in on the plight of the victims she has intereacted with. Speaking to TT Guardian, she said: “I am work­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly to develop a se­ries of art­works that fea­ture two bod­ies of work, ex­plor­ing differ­ent me­dia. [. . .] The se­ries em­pha­sizes the theme of ‘Tar­gets’ where I use sym­bol­ism and ma­te­ri­als to com­ment on so­cial and po­lit­i­cal in­jus­tices that ex­ist in so­ci­ety to­day. These ‘Tar­gets’ re­fer to vic­tims that have been abused sex­u­al­ly, men­tal­ly, phys­i­cal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly, et cetera.”

Jones’ intent for using condoms and embroidery thread are not for aesthetics. She deliberately uses the pieces to create textures that may not immediately bring out the materials used for the pieces. “I also use embroidery thread to hand sew portraits of young girls who are usually the “target” for sex trafficking scams and other forms of sexual abuse, along with emotional and mental abuse.”

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