Graduate School Personal Statement

My artistic practice began as an internal reaction to a dynamic, alien, and fascinating environment, and expresses an aesthetic of wonder, reflection, awe and grandeur. For me, growing up with multiple mothers in the hinterlands of Portland, Jamaica was an isolating yet eye-opening experience. My biological mother and great aunt routinely took in several female relatives and friends. Strangely, my father has never lived with us; the inverse is true too.  Stranger still, there was a church with a mostly female congregation two feet from my house. I was the lone male in the household. While seclusion and shyness arose from these arrangements, it was an ideal environment to wander into wonder. Solitude allowed me to draw, doodle and rearrange old appliances into sculpture. My artistic interests deepened when I first saw the world clearly -quite literally. I received my first pair of glasses at sixteen and discovered that I had been near-sighted. Every object I beheld was as dazzling as if heretofore unseen.

A year and a half later I moved out of my mother’s house and lived alone while still in high school. I slept in a half-finished structure. My parental estrangement and the solitude that accompanied it shaped my perspective on my identity as well as gave me time for numerous night-time drawings in an empty room I converted into my studio. I survived with money and goods that I received periodically from my friends, my friend’s parents and my own parents. I promptly used that money to buy pencils, paper and - if any remained - food.

When I arrived in the United States a year later to Wesleyan University, again I found myself in an unusual social habitat. My expressions of individuality, my cultural identity, my race and my gender were all interrogated in new cultural, political and philosophical frameworks. I ignored all of my artistic impulses and focused on physics. I failed. I changed my major to art, was rejected, and declared art history instead. I eventually took nine art history courses and was introduced to Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman and Marilyn Minter who were indelible influences that fuelled my desire to return to art making. My courses in physics and math gave me a linear, process-oriented method of working which I applied in earnest when I redoubled my efforts in art-making. The apex of these efforts, my senior thesis exhibition me, myself and i reflected an examination of the fluid and artificial nature of identity.

After graduation I continued to make work in that vein while experimenting with multiple methods. Recently, I have returned to Jamaica and now educate eighth through eleventh grade students. Teaching has taught me how much I need to learn. Deeply exploring one idea has stimulated my desire to engage with different approaches and media for me to grow. The small University of Connecticut program, its emphasis on deep engagement and its veneration of conceptual and technical rigor are the very mother and father of artistic and intellectual growth.