Art Exhibition: Elodie Cage-Smith’s “Portals amidst the Deep”


In “Naturalised Guyanese artist pays homage to Caribbean ancestors in first solo exhibition,” Laurel Sutherland (Stabroek News) writes about Martinican-born artist Elodie Cage-Smith and her first solo exhibition. The exhibition will run until January 11, 2020 at Castellani House. Castellani House is located at the corner of Vlissengen Road and Homestretch Avenue in Georgetown, Guyana. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

With her first ever solo art exhibition, which is now open at Castellani House, artist Elodie Cage-Smith is seeking to portray the struggles of her Caribbean ancestors as well as the appreciation she feels for the aesthetic value of the Caribbean.

“The art pieces serve as a gateway to a period in our history when the greed of gain stirred the Caribbean waters and viewers are transported to the reality of the grotesque torment aboard the floating prisons. The work poignantly reminds us of the men and women who lost their lives at sea while attempting to escape the bonds and boats of doom. Amidst their bones are nets, chains, locks, shackles and other ruins of mutiny that now lays as a memorial in the darkness beneath the deep sea,” Cage-Smith told the audience present at the opening last Thursday.

Born and raised in Martinique, Cage-Smith’s roots run deep through every piece. Speaking to Stabroek Weekend, she said the exhibition, which is titled ‘Portals Amidst the Deep,’ is her way of paying homage to her ancestors and the struggles they faced after being brought to the Caribbean by slave traders. All her paintings, she said, are basically an artist’s version of history and allow viewers a peek into the dark Caribbean past.

Cage-Smith explained that as a child she was very introverted and art gave her an opportunity to express herself. “The ability to express yourself through a media is great… so that’s what I have done and I consider each of my paintings like a portal which allows persons to travel through time and space, defying the impossible, so they could be in 1981 or 1617 through the paintings.”

Further, Cage-Smith disclosed that she has always had a deep appreciation for the aesthetic value of the Caribbean and had a keen interest in its history, which have influenced all of her work. She has since researched the history of her Caribbean forefathers and made herself familiar with their stories. She added that some of her paintings also show who her ancestors were before being taken into slavery. “There were people with true values and they were valuable and they were taken away from their comfort into a situation that even the worst criminal could not bear,” she said.

Cage-Smith also noted that although most artists prefer to steer clear of dark colours, she has embrace those neglected colors as they represent a reflection of who she is. She said that she has a deep passion for dark blue colours because it reminds her of her beloved Caribbean Sea, which is mixed with the darkness of what happened many years ago. “The dark contrast is what highlights the beauty of the colors and so one should not ignore the darkness. The dark past of the Caribbean, although it was not necessary, is what has allowed the Caribbean to shine more,” she noted.

Her creativity, she said, can be credited to the fact that her family struggled financially while she was growing up. She said that at times she would be bored which resulted in her picking up and playing with items she would recycle. However, she said it contributed greatly to her art work, which made her pieces unique and which is why her work that are on display has a lot of missed media.

Cage-Smith, who is a fine arts instructor at the University of Guyana (UG), moved here with her husband, Marvin Smith, ten years ago. She said she has never regretted moving to Guyana as it gave her an opportunity to interact with “this beautiful country.” “I consider that this country is mine and I claim it,” she added. She became a naturalised Guyanese in 2016.

Following her move to Guyana, she enrolled at the E.R Burrowes School of Arts and graduated with a diploma after which she enrolled at the UG and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fine Arts. Her art pieces that she entered in the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition (GVACE) in 2017 were featured at Castellani House on more than one occasion. [. . .]

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