Something Curated recently shared an interview on “Artist Cydne Jasmin Coleby on Bahamian Textiles & The Women in Her Life.”
Nassau-based Bahamian artist Cydne Jasmin Coleby considers the matriarchs of the family in her latest body of work. The digital and mixed media collage artist attended The University of The Bahamas, and following a career in graphic design returned to her art practice, going onto exhibit extensively in her native country as well as more recently in Europe. Presented by Unit London and running until 23 April 2021, Queen Mudda is a celebration of Black women and girls. With nods to Rococo alongside the hyper-embellishment of the Caribbean and African diaspora, Coleby’s dynamic works oscillate between the ruffles and frills of the Baroque period and the vibrating patterns of African wax print fabric, Junkanoo, and Carnival. There is a severe exploitation of unseen labour in Black women the world over, and in an age where being is appearing, Coleby offers the matriarchs of her family line the opportunity to appear as elevated as the care they give. To learn more about the artist’s practice and her current exhibition, Something Curated spoke with Coleby.
Something Curated: Can you give us some insight into your background; when did you first become interested in artmaking?
Cydne Jasmin Coleby: My earliest memory of being introduced to fine art was when I walked into the family home of prominent Bahamian artists Stan and the late Jackson Burnside. Their sister, Julia, is good friends with my mother, and when we went to visit her I walked into a house with walls covered in salon-hung paintings. I had never seen anything like it and was just in awe. Julia explained to me that Stan and Jackson were artists, and that was when I knew I wanted to be an artist as well. From then on my parents supported my interest to pursue an art career at every stage of my life.
I enrolled in the College (now University) of The Bahamas’ art programme, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish my degree. Despite that, I knew I didn’t want to settle into a non-creative field. So I taught myself how to use Adobe Creative Suite, and worked as a corporate and freelance graphic designer for about eight years. In 2018 I decided to make art again, utilising all I’d learnt and experimented with in college as well as during my time as a graphic designer. And I’d say things have been going well ever since. [. . .]
SC: Could you expand on your use of materials from African wax print fabrics, to newspaper clippings and plant fibres?
CJC: I’ve always been fascinated by the use of various textures and materials in art. And all of the materials I use in my work, excluding the paint, have some connection physically and/or visually to The Bahamas. The batik wax fabric in my work is actually Bahamian. It’s called “Androsia” and it’s produced on the island of Andros – an island in which I have family roots. The Androsia factory was started by Rose Birch in the 1960’s as an easy, fun, and affordable, in terms of production, way to celebrate the island and provide employment to Bahamian women. Outside of this connection to womanhood, the fabric is also seen as the unofficial fabric of The Bahamas.
You’ll also see in some of the works I’ve mixed Bahamian sand with paint to create texture. [. . .]
[Above: Cydne Jasmin Coleby, Ushered In, 2021.]