Art is being used as a means of overcoming the trauma caused by Hurricane Maria, and strengthening the resilience effort in Dominica. The Waitukubuli Art Association, in its bid to create an art renaissance in Dominica and beautify communities through art, staged art exhibition representing artist impressions of the hurricane and life in its aftermath. The exhibition was titled ‘WhoOsh!’ – a play on the sound made by the strong winds of the storm, which proved to be a powerful muse to many of the artists.
“The beauty of art is not the material but what you can do with it,”said President of the Waitukubuli Art Association, Lowell Omtni Royer,as he described the artists’ use of diverse mediums to express themselves. The exhibition boasted a rich variety of styles, including sculptures, painting, airbrushing, body painting, cake art, jewellery art and even pieces of debris, such as twisted zinc sheets.
Some artists, such as Gareth Park-E Harris, used their art as a means of coping with the trauma caused by Hurricane. The airbrush artist, who has been fine tuning his craft over the past 14 years, created a piece depicting the storm as a frightening female figure riding a large wave. In the piece titled Maria, a hollow outline of a single individual stands affront of a tempestuous dreadlocked storm. “The hollow man represents everyone, who lost their lives during the passage of the storm, [and] the ten locks are for then ten parishes, which she left dread” Gareth said.
Other artists were inspired by the resilience of the people after the storm and had themes of youthful innocence and the everyday life of rebuilding efforts. Vibrant pieces such as Shadrach Burton’s 680,000 stroke painting titled Hurricane Blues II, lured the attention of onlookers to the brilliant colours of clothes being hung to dry and away from the backdrop of barren trees and a ground littered with twisted zinc roofing.
For many, the exhibition was therapeutic allowing viewers the chance to reflect on the events in a relaxed and engaging manner. One piece invited participants to share their ‘Maria stories’ on zinc sheets that were bound in a book that allowed them to actively interact with the displayed art and express their experiences. Attendees at the event were pleased with its outcome. Saphire applauded ‘WhoOsh!’ for its use of art to speak out about the issues affecting individuals and the greater society. “I loved how every emotion experienced during and after Maria was represented: tears, sadness, anger, confusion, despair, introspection, toil, laughter, and hope,” she said. I believe that expressing these emotions, feeling them, using them as proverbial paint is healing.”
The Waitukubuli Art Association intends to continue growing in strength and plans to use art to beautify communities around the island with strong but beautiful messages.