[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Daphne Ewing-Chow (Forbes) reports on art production in the Cayman Islands as a reaction to COVID-19.
Those who view the Cayman Islands from the outside in often paint mental pictures of a tropical postcard cliché or a money-driven financial services hot spot. The stereotypical black and white lens through which Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are frequently observed overlooks a rich and diversified artistic culture that, in the context of COVID-19, has been amplified by lockdowns and curfews. To create, artists of all kinds typically require isolation, time and limited distraction. Days at the beach have been temporarily replaced by the ebbs and tides of soft and hard curfews and the isolation of COVID-19 has essentially become an empty canvas— a vacuum through which Cayman creatives can channel profound emotions, inspirations and heartfelt messages.
Take Shane Aquart aka Dready for instance, whose #meetmywilsonpieces are inspired by the film Castaway, starring Tom Hanks whose character is isolated on a deserted island and turns to a ball, on which he paints a face and names Wilson, to create the connection that he so desperately craves. “Right now there are a lot of people who are feeling lonely, depressed and vulnerable,” says Shane, who was asked to participate in the COVID-inspired project by entrepreneur and philanthropist, David Leppan. [. . .]
Marc Laurenson is the General Manager of an electrical supply company by day. By night, on weekends and under lockdown, he is an artist at his commission-based design company, Stoak’d. “I have always wanted to make a self portrait,” says Marc of a COVID-inspired collage that he created, using materials from his home. “With the lockdown, I had the time to do it. I loved the process, as I got to make it with my little girl, Mila.” To make his portrait iconic, Marc’s inspiration was the sacred heart of Jesus. “I wanted to display the protective measures needed to fight this virus. In the portrait, I have one hand in a stop pose and the other hand holding bleach used to sanitise. In the toilet paper above my head, I’m planning on adding the words, ‘I survived COVID-19 2020’ to turn the toilet roll into a scroll. That is something I am looking forward to,” he laughs.
Seventeen-year old environmental enthusiast, writer, amateur filmmaker and lover of books and psychological horror movies, Tahiti Seymour refuses to be tethered to any one of these labels, referring to herself instead as “a mode of activism, by way of creative mediums.” As a teen, Tahiti has been the most profoundly affected among the creatives depicted here. “With the world seemingly caving in on us, the teenage fabrication of Friday nights and milestones, appears to be crashing down,” she laments. “This current pandemic has matured us, in the way that we prioritise our studies and our mental health.”
[. . .] Musician and teacher, Beneil Miller responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by shifting into a creative vortex. Having produced a variety of COVID-inspired songs across multiple genres, Miller explains that “Being locked down has just given me the chance delve into my creativity deeper and I’m happy to say I have found my silver lining in this time of crisis.”
Miller, who was a top selection among several categories in the government’s “Creativity in the time of COVID-19 jingle competition,” received accolades for a reggae piece called #Caymankind, about the warm hospitality for which Caymanians have come to be known. The words of the song depict the importance of being considerate and patient during the crisis. [. . .]
A lighter, more upbeat perspective on curfews and mobility restrictions inspired music teacher, Vito Biliti to produce “Fresh Air”. The avid player of 12 instruments wrote and produced the song and music video in response to “how the Earth must be loving the lack of car exhaust and air pollution.” [. . .]
Artist, Pamela Laurenson sees the crisis through different eyes. Engulfed by her emotions as a mother and a woman under lockdown, she “wanted to convey the intensity of the many thoughts and feelings during this time. Warm to vibrant colours were carefully cut from magazines and comics and were arranged into a collage, resembling a young woman. Scenes and shapes, some showing love, others desperation and wonder,” the artist explains.
“As a resident in the Cayman Islands, there’s a lot to take into consideration, but one thing is for certain, our community is diverse and strong and we will work together to overcome this crisis by maintaining our optimism, creativity and resilience.”