Meet Alicia Brown, The Artist.
By Alecia James, July, 26, 2017
Her work is mesmerizing. Her strokes are precise. Her imagination is captivating. When she picks up her paintbrush, magic is created. She is Alicia Brown, the artist. I've known Alicia for sometime now. When I met her for the first time in the 7th grade, what I didn't know was that I was looking at a future talented artist; someone who is now obviously marking her mark and boldly declaring her presence on the Jamaican art scene. She is no secret now. In fact, I'm sure you might have read about her, or seen her on television. She even headlined her own show last year, called "Copy & Placed," a huge success for any young artist.
I'm elated that she was able to take a few moments out of her ultra - busy schedule and drop some words of wisdom for my readers. If you're an aspiring artist, there's something here for you. She gives us the scoop on the inspiration behind some of her unique pieces which explores both historical and contemporary elements. The "something special" which makes her such a talented force in the art world may not be easy to replicate as it is clearly a unique gift. A gift she's using to inspire through her many distinct creations. Free your minds and let's travel on this artistic journey with Alicia, where stories are not written with ink and paper, but with brushes carefully stroking each line and chapter through shapes and forms on a canvas.
Creative Ajay presents: Alicia Brown, the artist!
CAJ - If someone were to ask what ART means to you, what would you tell them? How has art changed your life?
It is not very easy to explain what art means to me, but if I could compare it to a basic human need such as food, I feel like its just as important. Art for me is spiritual food that impacts the way I feel, grow, think, view and interact with myself and the world. Without art I would not be the person I am, or will be.
Art is my life and it impacts on me in various degrees. It allows me to absorb the world and express myself in ways that I would not be able to do otherwise. As a child, creating or making art was the way to solve problems and to communicate with my inner self. It gave me the courage to express thoughts and ideas in ways that nothing else could. The journey of pursuing a career as an artist have changed and impacted my life in unmeasured ways. Through art I am able to communicate ideas that affect others in ways that are unique and______________________
A lot of your work deals with cultural identity, stemming from the impact of colonialism; what messages are you trying to convey with your art? What lessons are you teaching?
Yes most of my works address the concept of cultural identity which is rooted in colonialism, social structure, globalization and other factors.
Through my works I aim to present narratives surrounding the process of forming cultural identity, through personal experiences as well as from society. As an artist, I am curious about the histories of cultures and how we belong or adapt. Using Jamaica and the Caribbean as points of reference in terms of history and identity, what we know of the Caribbean people are through stories that were told and passed down through generations. There is an ongoing search for missing pieces of self and the obsession with the need for acceptance and belonging. This issue is apparent in the formation of sub-cultures where dominant cultures are copied and imitated in the process of constructing identity.
I am not intentionally trying to teach a lesson through my works, however, I do aim to challenge the viewer and force them to think about themselves and where they belong in the story.
Do you think ART has the power to challenge the status quo? If so, how?
Yes definitely, art has the power to challenge status quo. Throughout history artists have used art as a means of making political statements. The propaganda posters created during the 2nd World War were tools that gave artists the freedom to express the issues of corruption, turmoil and strife associated with the war and the impact on the society. Picasso's painting of "Guernica" is also another example. Through some of my works, I am addressing political themes such as class structures, globalization, mass media, pop-culture as well as political events of the past, such as colonization and their impact on the formation of modern Caribbean cultural identity.
Art challenges the status quo through the powerful tool of representation. By using this medium, artists are able to attune viewers to pressing issues through visual means.
I love art because of its potential to tell a compelling story. There are so many messages that are hidden and left to our interpretation. Is there any of your pieces that stand out as being very poignant based on the depth of the unspoken messages?
Everyone who views my works will react or will be affected by the piece depending on the experiences they bring to the process of looking . When I am creating my works, I don't intentionally create the work to evoke a particular emotion. In all the works I hope to make a connection to the viewer where they have a sense of freedom to have a personal affair with the piece. I have been told by some persons that my works are very direct and others have expressed that they are subtle. With this in mind, I do not have works that evoke a set emotion or feeling.
Do you think that Caribbean people are still faced with identity struggles? How does representing these struggles through portraiture addresses the problem?
Yes definitely, we all struggle with identity in the Caribbean space. In his essay Cultural Identity and Diaspora, Stuart Hall expressed the view that rather than looking at identity as fixed, we should look at is as a process. The choice of using portraiture as a tool to express the issue of identity for one, portraits imitate the model, when we think of someone the first thing we try to picture is their face. We live in a "selfie" era where people are obsessed with self. The face is the feature that sets us apart from each other and is also the feature that we are most aware of. As an artist, I am drawn to the faces of people, so many stories and experiences are expressed through the face. In dealing with identity representing portraits, this is a feature shared by humans and is used as a canvas for exploration and experimentation. This is evident on the faces of the Caribbean people as we are still affected and influenced by colonialism and western trends with the obsession or the fantasy of being the other.
What kind of media do you use? Any special tools and techniques to achieve those masterpieces?
The medium I work in most is oil but I also work with charcoal and mixed media to create the pieces. The media is dependent on the outcome I want to get in each piece I make.
Your ability to juxtapose different elements such as current hair trends with the colonial period is amazing. Do you think that the impact of colonialism is responsible for some of the identity struggles that we see today?
Yes I do believe that the effects of colonialism is a great contributor to the insecurities regarding Caribbean cultural identity. This is evident in our mannerism, way of dress, language and social structure.
What are some Jamaican elements and symbols that have the greatest impact on your art?
Some Jamaican elements that I use or represent in my works include hair trends, the landscape, street salon culture, attitude of the people and most recently, the ackee fruit.
For novice artists who are looking to succeed in this field, any words of advice for them?
My advice to aspiring artists: Firstly, believe in what you do; respect what you do; work at your craft every day; do not pursue art for monetary gain and finally, love and share your art.
Last year, you had your first solo show dubbed “Copy & Placed” at Studio 174 in Kingston. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about that exhibition? What was the reception like?
Yes last April I hosted my first solo show, Copied and Placed at Studio 174. I was nervous about the show because I wasn't sure if people would be interested in seeing my work. I was away from Jamaica for two years pursuing my MFA in New York. Being away from the Jamaican art scene for a while, I wasn't sure if everyone would be aware of who I was. I am however, very happy to share that the show was a great success. The reception from the public was well received and encouraging.
Following the show, my work got some press: I was featured on Loop Jamaica, CVM at Sunrise, Business Access TV, CPTC TV and the featured artist in the Caribbean Quarterly Journal, volume 62, No. 2, June 2016.
What does the future hold for “Alicia Brown the artist?”
Going forward I plan to continue to work on growing and developing as an artist, and to seek platforms to display my work to the world.
Where can we learn more about your artwork or purchase some of your pieces?
Works can be purchased directly through the artist by contacting me through email - email@example.com
"Believe in what you do; respect what you do; work at your craft every day; do not pursue art for monetary gain and finally, love and share your art." These are some powerful words of wisdom from Alicia, a young and talented art genius who is here to conquer the art world while making her mark.
And while we celebrate the Picasso's, the DaVinici's and the Van Gogh's, let us recognize, uplift and celebrate the talent of Alicia, a present-day artist, so that in years to come, her name will remain poignant as one who has made an indelible mark in the amazing world of ART.
And she is BOLD, ALLURING and DIFFERENT
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