WORK + TEXT > Zoo at the Edge of the World: A Continuum of the Exotic (2014-present)

On August 20th, 2004, I departed from my country of birth, the Bahamas, to attend tertiary level education in the United States. Upon entry into the American school system, words such as exotic, islander and native became the norm when many Americans referred to me. These words were usually followed by bizarre questions regarding the way of life on the “islands”, which usually pointed to ideals that referenced behaviors of the savage. Though mostly said out of naivety and innocence, I recently began the mammoth task of trying to figure out the origins of such stereotypes in order to question certain prejudices associated with non-Western civilizations today.

This inquiry has led me to research comprising the 19th and 20th century phenomena of Human Zoos. Scholarly investigations in history, anthropology, and sociology have been key sources for the development of my content. To gain a more thorough understanding of the Human Zoo phenomenon, my research focuses on the lineage of such practices through thorough examinations of subsidiaries such as circuses, world’s fairs, freak shows, and ethnic exhibits. My intentions are to work through behaviors and philosophies of past Western societies to further understand hierarchy, prejudices and racist ideals today.

Through the manipulation of imagery sourced from ethnologic illustrations, advertisements, and sideshow banners, I create an “elsewhere” that examines narratives, exhibits and fascinations that resulted from such displays. In much of the work, the ‘exotic human ‘other’ is often paired alongside wild beasts, thus simultaneously referencing the systematic representation of human difference that occurred during the phenomena of the “human zoo”. The work introduces an alternate history that readdresses the then popular craze for monstrosity through displays and commercialization of human difference in order to justify superiority of Western exhibitors.

The process of destruction and rebuilding of my surface is meant to further charge the narrative in these works. Through cutting, tearing, stitching, stapling and ‘nursing’ my surfaces I points to the history of exploitation and cruelty that was, and still is faced by the underrepresented body within the larger framework of society.

Institution of Captivity
Acrylic, latex house paint, spray paint, fabric paint, pencil, string and staples on cut unprimed canvas
84'' x 90''
2015
Days and Nights in the Wilderness
Acrylic, Latex, Airbrush, found fabric, string, stickers and plastic from float toy on cut unprimed canvas
92'' x 96''
2015
Bushman Bushmeat
Acrylic, latex house paint, spray paint, fabric paint, pencil, string, arrow, ping pong ball and staples on cut unprimed canvas
80'' x 86''
2015
Never Again Human: Conversations with Two
Acrylic, latex house paint, fabric puffy paint, weave, found fabric graphite, staples, brass, ribbons on cut unprimmed canvas
65” x 52”
2016
Never Again Human: Conversations with Four
Acrylic, Latex house paint, fabric puffy paint, weave, found fabric graphite, staples, brass, ribbons on cut unprimmed canvas
83” x 94.5”
2016
Zoo Keeper
Acrylic, spray paint, house paint, rhinestones, stickers, Band-aids, found fabric, rope, string, ribbon and artist's blood on cut canvas
88'' x 115''
2015
Self Portrait As Prized Pink Pony
Acrylic, latex paint, spray paint, ribbons, found fabric on cut canvas
98'' x 102''
2015
Exhibit
Acrylic, Spray Paint, Latex house paint, fabric paint, tennis ball, rope, button, staples, banaids, award ribbons, string, thread,and found fabric on cut canvas.
91'' x 110''
2015
Pinocchio's Half Sister
Acrylic, Spray Paint, Latex house paint, fabric paint, tennis ball, rope, buttons, staples, banaids, jeans pants, thread,and found fabric on cut canvas.
98'' x 102''
2014
Something Strange This Way Comes
Acrylic, spray paint, latex house paint, buttons, ribbon, string, stickers, and found fabric on cut canvas
74'' x 96'
2014
On Deaf Ears
Acrylic, latex house paint, spray paint and shivs on cut canvas
46'' x 72''
2013
Over the Rainbow
Acrylic, enamel, spray paint, bandaids, feather poly-fill, rope, and stickers on cut canvas
36'' x 66''
2014