2nd conference: Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean
Petrona Morrison, The transnational Caribbean: Construct or reality?
The transnational Caribbean: Construct or reality? Transnationalism, as a product and process of globalization, has been articulated as a theoretical frame within which cultural production can be located, within and outside of the Caribbean. The reality of the economic, cultural and social impact of globalization is without dispute, and can be seen daily in the manifestations of popular culture in the Caribbean, reflecting some degree of hybridity and creolisation. The discourse around ‘the transnational Caribbean’ has emphasized and celebrated the potential of interconnectivity, and the possibilities of establishing and sustaining wide networks which facilitate the flow of ideas and people, and strengthen local initiatives. This has been presented as counter-hegemonic, a liberating and empowering model which engages ‘local’ and ‘diaspora’ communities. However, any discussion of the potential for sustaining communities through the process of interconnectivity must be examined in the context of the realities of the Caribbean space and the historical and political legacies that informed the development of these communities. The ‘old’ narratives and constructs of class, race and cultural identity are still relevant to the discussion. This presentation will challenge notions of ‘the Transnational Caribbean’ in the context of hegemony and existing political and economic structures within and external to the Caribbean. It will examine the diverse contexts in which art communities exist in the Caribbean, based on geography and history, and their relationship to identity and empowerment. Issues which impact sustainability such as access to funding, policy and institutional support, arts infrastructure and the existence of viable artistic communities in the region will be explored, as well as possibilities for collaboration through partnerships. The presentation will conclude by discussing recent developments in the articulation of a policy framework for institutional support for the arts in Jamaica, as well as institutional and independent platforms for networking and exchange which are emerging and making a contribution to building intra-regional artistic communities. Finally, and most importantly, it will ask, “whose community”? To what extent are art communities connected to and intersecting with diverse local audiences or do they exist as new models of elitism? Biography: Petrona Morrison is a Jamaican artist and educator who lives and works in Kingston, Jamaica. She received her Master of Fine Arts Degree from Howard University, Washington, D.C. in 1986, and her Bachelor of Arts Degree (Fine Arts) from McMaster University, Ontario, Canada in 1976. Over the past twenty years her work has consisted of assemblages and installations. More recently her interests have included photo-based installations and videos. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica and has contributed to exhibitions of Jamaican art at several international exhibitions. These include the 1st Bienal de Pintura del Caribe Y Centro America, Santo Domingo; the Sixth Havana Biennial, Cuba; Exclusion, Fragmentacion y Paraiso: Caribe Insular, Madrid; Atlantide Caraibe, Martinique, and most recently, ‘Circa 1962/Circa 2012’, mounted as part of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Toronto. In 1994-1995 she was Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Other residencies include the Thapong International Artists’ Workshop, Mahalapye, Botswana (1996); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Nebraska(2000); Caribbean Contemporary Arts Center , CCA7, Trinidad (2002); and The Bag Factory (Fordsburg Artists Studio), Johannesburg, South Africa (2004). She was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of her contribution to the Arts in 2000. Her work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Jamaica, the Studio Museum in New York, the Bank of Jamaica and the Michael Manley Collection, among others. Ms. Morrison is currently Director of the School of Visual Arts, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Kingston, where she has been on faculty since 1988.