meet ttff/21 festival artist, sheena rose

The trinidad+tobago film festival is delighted to have Sheena Rose as the festival artist for our 16th edition. Her work, ‘Monolithic’, will represent this year’s festival on the festival guide, poster and buttons. Mikayla Almandoz spoke with the Barbadian visual artist to learn more about her work and her artistry. 

ttff what was the inspiration behind your artwork, ‘Monolithic’, which is representing the festival this year?

SR I love Pop Art, I cannot help to see myself as a Caribbean Pop Artist. I love retro commercials, posters, old magazine and photos. They feel nostalgic and make me very happy inside. I wanted to recreate these found images and collage them into a painting. I was really curious what would happen if I glued these three women, and added them to a vibrant, loud living room. 

ttff how do you view ttff and its role within the region?

SR TTFF is making a great contribution to the region and the global space. We get to see ourselves, our stories, captured in film and moving images. I love to see filmmakers from the Caribbean who are proud and excited to show their films and stories, and I too am excited because I want to see our stories; how did the filmmakers portray us. It is very important to have a space like this to see and show ourselves.

ttff who/ what are some of your influences and inspirations?

SR I have tons of influences and inspiration for my work! At first, whenever I was asked that question in interviews, I would have a list of names. But as time goes by, it’s getting harder to pinpoint. I am inspired by all kinds of passionate creativity such as the work of writers, dancers, poets, filmmakers, cinematographers, musicians, sound engineers, costume makers, etc. I love creative people that take risks and are unapologetic.

ttff you are a multi-disciplinary artist, doing paintings, drawings, performance art, new media, public art and mixed media, what drew you to all of these avenues of creation?

SR I went to Barbados Community College from 2003 – 2008 and honestly, I wanted to be a cartoonist. During that time the college encouraged us to work on different materials. At first, I was very miserable, because I just wanted to draw, but after a while, I learned to enjoy many techniques such as printmaking, filmmaking, figure drawing, photography, graphics, etc. They were very challenging at first, but as I grew as an artist, they taught me to be flexible and curious. In 2014, I received a Fulbright Scholarship to do my MFA in Studio Art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to continue the idea of working in different media. It felt great to work in many materials during and after my studies. I also created more performance art, new media art, and installation art. 

ttff what are you currently working on?

SR I am currently working on many projects such as pen and ink drawings, colorful cityscapes, hand-stitched mixed media costumes, and paintings. I am continuing the idea of asking myself, who am I? What or how do I contribute to the space? During this time, I feel as though these many projects are helping me find myself. The costumes/ performance art feels like my paintings and drawings are alive and in our world. The drawings feel like a diary, the paintings feel like a bizarre mind scape I occupy.

ttff you seem to always be busy learning a new skill, from swimming to making wigs, where do you find the motivation to keep expanding?

SR Well, since the pandemic started, I told myself, go and learn some skills, this is the time to discover more of yourself. We have a lot more time on our hands. Instead of buying a wig, learn to make one. Instead of buying herbs in the supermarket, learn to be a gardener/ farmer. I also see these extra skills as a benefit to my art and my process of thinking. 

ttff you mentioned that you can get impatient and not trust the process when you’re working on multiple ideas, how do you navigate that?

SR I find I am getting better at not being so impatient, especially now that I am doing yoga and meditation daily. I was getting tired of the process because I wanted to quickly see the result of the work and hope for the best. However, I recently started enjoying the process a bit more. I feel as though I am discovering more about myself, and becoming excited with the transformation of the work. I am asking myself more questions such as why am I doing this again? Should I change this colour, perhaps I can add or take it away? I always remember Picasso and Dali quotes, which help me to be patient and understanding:

“I begin with an idea, and then it’s something else” Pablo Picasso

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

ttff what are your thoughts on being ttff/21’s festival artist?

I am smiling from ear to ear. I feel honoured and excited that I was selected to be the ttff/ 21 Festival artist! I am feeling great that you cannot miss my work. It is the poster and part of the face of the festival this year! I love that visual art is also acknowledged in the festival. It also makes me think of powerful visuals. I’m very happy with how my work is exposed to viewers, art lovers, film lovers, and anyone who has a device in their hand.

You can learn more about Sheena Rose’s work by visiting her site:
www.sheenaroseart.com

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