TERN Gallery presents “Stick It,” a collage-based exhibition featuring four artists: Cydne Jasmin Coleby (The Bahamas), Ronald Cyrille (Guadeloupe), Gherdai Hassell (Bermuda), and Steven Schmid (The Bahamas), on view from January 27 to March 12, 2022. The exhibition opening event will be held on January 28, 2022 from 10:00am to 7:00pm (EST). The gallery is located at Mahogany Hill, Western Road, in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Amalgamating images, textures, and textiles and remixing these resources into new compositions whether digitally, paper-based, or through mixed media is an integral act in the collective approaches of the exhibited artists. Within this collecting and re-presenting, each artist weaves their histories and curiosities into the fabric of the work, giving space for the audience to present their own.
Cydne Jasmin Coleby’s work tethers between self and family portraits. The multi-media work functions as a vehicle for introspection and navigation of generational traumas. The density of the media alludes to the Afro-Bahamian tradition of pasting and costume-making for Junkanoo, which combines elements of paint, crêpe-paper, glitter, and decorative stones. Coleby folds this ancestral consume-making technique with natural elements, like sand, creating two-dimensional relief works. In contrast, the texture within Steven Schmid’s work is formed through his constant experimentations with various digital and physical mediums. Examining how histories, stories and experiences can physically exist on a body, Schmid reconfigures and amalgamates past works with new imagery to create figures that are constantly evolving. Combining various family and self-portraits with symbolism representing their various lived experiences, Schmid’s figures examine the complexities and contradictions of our everyday lives. Thematically, Schmid focuses on nostalgia, masculinity and otherness, creating colorful, vibrant and fantastical representations. The portraits exist as nimble lampoons of masculinity and identity politics in Bahamian society.
Like Coleby and Schmid in their mining of history as a resource for their practices, Gherdai Hassell utilizes the same conceptual bases. Hassell highlights our universal interconnectivity and flattens disparities of time and relation. Matriarchal lineage–and how it closes the disparity of the past and present, the kin and the stranger–becomes essential to Hassel’s work. This manifests in her use of women as subject matter. The papers, fabrics, and stones used for the collages are a part of a disillusioned time repository. As Hassell’s figures come to life through the amalgamation of paper, Ronald Cyrille’s figures and landscapes do the same. Cyrille’s oeuvre encompasses spray painted murals, acrylic and oil paintings, and now collages. The same lush yet ominous landscape and anthropomorphic figures traverse each output creating a world within the already constructed landscape of the Caribbean. Unlike his painting practice, Cyrille’s collages are minimal, often diptychs, but the mysticism remains.
Our island nations in the Global South are collages within themselves. They are repeating islands of multiculturalism, sustained through the insistence of innovation and resourcefulness. In this collective urgency, we see collage as the transferable principle. The repurposing of bleach bottles as jugs to carry water to and fro government pumps in borrowed trolleys. The coexistence of flamboyants/poinciana trees with shrubbery growing between limestone hills lined with coconut trees. To not expect collage from artists in this region is to overlook the histories and practices of those who live here. This exhibition seeks to highlight those artists, their histories and their work.
Cydne Jasmin Coleby (b. 1993, Nassau, The Bahamas) is a digital and mixed media collage artist based in Nassau, The Bahamas. Throughout her childhood, Coleby remembers disassociating herself from her body, questioning aspects of her being and how they are perceived by others. But even with this awareness, she has been unable to elude conditioning’s grasp. At some point Coleby pivoted from the position of investigating to accepting – accepting narratives she was told were hers despite never holding a writing credit. Though she found that she did this for many years, one cannot fight their nature. Self-reflection is an intrinsic aspect to her art practice. Through her graphic collages, she examines personal and collective/ancestral relationships to trauma and conditioning. It’s hard to distinguish between which experiences inform rather than define our identity. Coleby’s work aims to explore this grey area, while questioning our healing, and to cultivate our individual and collective narratives through these events.
Ronald Cyrille (b. 1984, Guadeloupe) is a visual artist and muralist. His approach is a combination of reliefs, Caribbean landscapes, and animals from his bestiary. His characters are sometimes two-headed, sometimes with disproportionate limbs or composed of tree branches, leaves or attributes of animals living in the Caribbean basin. The Kreyol dog is one of the main characters in his pictorial narratives. He expresses the landscape that surrounds him. He questions this society. He paints what undermines it and also who animates it. Color plays an important role in his compositions by bringing dynamism and energy. His compositions are rich and prolific – the representations of movement, in a realistic way but close to an unreality and a form of surreality bring a singular strength to his achievements.
Gherdai Hassell (b. 1991, Paget, Bermuda) is a China trained, multidisciplinary contemporary artist, writer and storyteller, based in Manchester, UK. Her work investigates memory and nostalgia to create unexpected narratives surrounding identity. She uses collage to thread and weave histories, and tales of transformation passed down through family lineages. Her work typically centers female bodies, simultaneously existing within realms of past, present, and future. Diasporic pasts become re-informed by Black futures, where the resulting present is experienced as living “Artifacts”. Her work is an exploration of identity as an exploration of materials. The work suggests that identity should be self-determined and understood, and contextualized through connection with others. Her multimedia work reimagines relationships with the body as avatar, social space and the invisible world. Gherdai Hassell received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Greensboro 2013 and is currently pursuing an MFA in Contemporary Art at the China Academy of Art.
Steven Schmid (b. 1987, Nassau, The Bahamas) is a Bahamian interdisciplinary artist whose practice utilizes drawing, painting and collage to explore themes of nostalgia, masculinity and otherness. Using the figure as a central point of exploration, Schmid reimagines personal narratives to create unique stories that illustrate the intricacies and malleability of the Bahamian and wider Caribbean diaspora. Schmid received his BFA in Film, Video and Integrated Media from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2016 and is currently pursuing a MFA in Studio Art at OCAD University.
[Artwork above: Ronald Cyrille, “Still Suspended 2,” 2021. Paper cuts, collage and posca, 25 x 19 in. Courtesy of TERN Gallery.]
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