A Glimpse into the Creative Mind of Tessa Mars

Here’s an excellent article on Tessa Mars by Rachele Viard (Caribbean Essence), based on her interview with the artist. Here are excerpts:

Recently Caribbean Essence was afforded the opportunity to interview Haitian visual artist Tessa Mars, who is part of a new generation of Haitian artists. Mars, the daughter of renowned author Kettly Mars, has exposed her work nationally and internationally including Canada, France, Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. Currently she is a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in the Netherlands, home of Amsterdam Impressionism.

As a young child Mars was encouraged by her parents and family to explore her curiosity. “I have always been a curious and handy child, very committed to understanding how the objects and tools around me work. I liked “touching” things, making, and repairing things, and my two grandmothers fed into my interest by teaching me how to sew, knit, embroider and letting me use their colors (pencils, chalks, paint tubes and fabrics), they were both dedicated to their creative hobbies,” Mars said.

Her artistic journey began with drawing and painting classes early on from Haitian artists. With each of them she learned a specific skill. As a pre-teen Valcin II taught her the basics about the proportions of the human body, Ménard Derenoncourt colors and light, and Ralph Allen observation. Tools that she still applies to date. However, what stands out the most for Mars “My biggest take away from those weeks of being around them was grasping how, using the same tools, they were able to create wildly different universes.”

When posed the question if her mother Kettly Mars encouraged her creativity, she explains that “Both my parents gave me the freedom to cultivate my love of knowledge and of experimentation. I had the run of the library and no books were forbidden, be it the very “adult” novels, the technical science manuals, and the colorful art monographs. They never tried to guide my explorations in any one direction beyond calling my attention to a certain notion or subject or bringing clarification on certain points.”

Mars goes on to explain that, “My mum started writing in earnest when I was ten, so I was old enough to observe and accompany her through her journey as a writer and in this way, she had a big influence on how I understand creativity. When I chose to study visual arts in 2003 both my parents encouraged me.” It is then no wonder how she thrived and carved for herself the career she has.

After obtaining a License in visual arts in France at Rennes 2 University in 2006, Mars returns to her native country and secured a job as a Cultural Projects Coordinator alongside artists Maxence Denis and Barbara Stephenson at the AfricAméricA Foundation.

In 2012, after dealing with the after effects of a car accident, which led to a long recovery, she found a way to represent her body in her work and persevere. In 2015, during an artist residency at the Alice Yard space in Trinidad and Tobago, she created an alter ego called Tessalines (a fusion of the artist’s name and that of the first Haitian emperor, Dessalines).

“Tessalines started as a joke that turned serious very quickly, a joke about elections and how Haitians make use of the heroes of the revolution to defend their current agendas. This memory serves as a reminder to let myself play and consider ideas no matter how ridiculous they may seem at first. My humor is one of the traits that I like the most about myself but sometimes I forget that it is also where some of my best ideas come from.” [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.caribbeanessence.net/post/a-glimpse-into-the-creative-mind-of-tessa-mars

[Seen above: Tessa Mars’s “A vision of Peace, Harmony and Good Intelligence I” 2020.]

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