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Portrait of the Artist: Paisley Study

Blown, Hot-sculpted, Sand-blasted & Silvered Glass, Stainless, Aluminium
18"H x 8"W x 8"D

Artist Statement
Redaction: 17.05.07

I see my sculptures as metaphors for the subjective nature of History and personal narrative. The self-portrait models are a recent evolution, a further exploration of the relationship of Place and Self, by overlaying various patterns onto models of my face. These portraits toy with concepts of duplication, copying and mirroring—recognizing and embracing the raft of attendant post-modern notions like simulacrum, impersonation, reproduction, counterfeit, forgery, appropriation, etcetera.

The Paisley Studies were inspired by the discovery that my great-grandmother may have been east-Indian, coming to Cayman by way of Jamaica and the British trade routes. Paisley is interesting because it has become such a global pattern, a product of globalization. Initially developed in ancient Persia, it was produced on textiles in the town of Paisley, Scotland, which is where we get our western name for this pattern. However, when we think of paisley we often think of India. I was struck by the nuance here: a pattern developed in the far east, adopted and mass-produced by the west has become a ubiquitous form, co-opted by various cultures and movements.

In truth is I have no idea whether my great-grandmother was Indian or not. Without genetic testing it is nothing more than a story, which is what history is: a story we tell ourselves to reinforce our identity. The lack of coloration on this piece speaks to this erasing, this white-washing of culture. I am reminded of Josiah McElheny’s Adolf Loo’s Ornament & Crime, where the artist made a model of what a world without ornamentation, what a world without color would look like: it would incredibly boring and predictable. I think it’s particularly fitting that a Caribbean boy would look to his (possibly) displaced ancestors to broaden his identity in an increasingly shrinking world.