In February I had the pleasure of collaborating in a project to paint 5 murals in the Dutch embassy of the Dominican Republic. I, a student of the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), was selected to collaborate with my mentors and artists, Tirzo Martha, David Bade, and Johanna Franco Zapata.
The project consisted of the four of us painting five murals in one week at the Dutch embassy.
At first I didn’t know how to react, because I haven’t been out of Curaçao in the last 8 years. But I made up my mind and gladly accepted to be part of the project. I was really amazed by the Santo Domingo, because the idea that I had of it was completely different than what it actually is. I expected a very bad environmental place with criminality going on all the time to some extend, but the reality was completely different. It was very peaceful like in Curaçao except there are more people and activities. What impressed me the most was the amount of monuments and old ruins that I saw. They were all very beautiful and interesting to look at for their composition. I can’t compare the Dominican Republic to my own because Curaçao is all I know.
It all started with us discussing the sketches we had send before we went to the Dominican Republic. Each of us started on our own wall. I am known to be a bit slow while painting. The reason of this is because I like to take my time. I believe each moment in the process is valuable to gain experience. I usually don’t work fast, because it’s not exiting for me. After we were more or less done with our part of the mural on the wall we would switch walls and add our own ideas/sketches to it. We kept doing this until everyone was pleased with the end result. While I was working on my part of the mural I started to see how I wanted to connect with the other paintings painted by my mentors.
I started to add my own ideas to David Bade’s ‘Romantic Baseball Pitcher’ mural and then on Tirzo Martha’s ‘Water Below The Pitcher’ painting. When I was painting on those murals one of my mentors told me to think about the horizon of the pitcher. That is when I started to think about the baseball field and wanted to give the pitcher a field just like the players play on the baseball field.
When I painted the field I started with players on top of pillars as a monumental reference of the important figures in the Dominican Republic. What I think about the baseball players of this country is that they are what we know the most, about the Dominican Republic, in Curaçao. On the field I made lines with tape and fill in with the colors blue and green. Blue represents the sky and green the grass. Of course I couldn’t leave the tapes on the mural so I decided to paint them instead.
Lastly I started on the mural of Johanna Franco Zapata’s ‘Boat On Cubes’. I started of by researching about every and any thing the Dutch had invented along the years. The one invention that I found that intrigued me and that fitted the composition that I wanted to apply to the boat was the fire hose that they invented in 1673.
I use it to put in the boat together with the Arawak indians that were aborigines to the country called Hispañola (before it was divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic) before the Spanish came and colonize the land. Each indian has a feather that represents the land and together they have the fire hose in their hands like a fireman would.
Lastly I painted Flags of Curaçao and St Maarten. I also wanted to put a few words in Papiamento (language spoken in Curaçao). Those words were ‘Yu di tera’ (Child of the land) because it was, us, from Curaçao who painted the walls and ‘Yu di tera’ is how we often call ourselves ‘Yu di Kòrsou’ (Child of Curaçao). I am not originally from Curaçao but I was raised there. Because of this I also call my self a ‘Yu di Tera’.
In the mean time I had the chance to know the Dominican Republic and it an eye opening experience. I am not used to getting so many references that I can use in my works. The buildings, people, culture, monuments and the museum of modern art of the Dominican Republic helped me see more of the world, know more about the art world and the influence it has in society. The museum was very impacting to me as it was the first museum I have visited other than the one’s in Curacao. Seeing the artworks personally motivated me to break through the limitations that I often put on my self just to have everything in control. I feel that I want to liberate myself from restrictions and let go more within my work. I also want to be more aware of why I want to do what I want to do as an art student and to not have any doubt or fear of what can come along the way. Seeing so many works done by artist in the modern art generation is very strange, because seeing these works made me see the fight against the traditional academic ways of the western world.
Visiting the art schools in the Dominican Republic made me see how much freedom we receive in IBB and also how great it is for us. The first art schools we visited was , Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales. It was like the school is designed to let you think and do what they want you to think, while the self expression is left out. The last art school, La Escuela de Diseño Altos de Chavón, we visited was like a resort. It was nice and all but has a similar approach even though there’s more freedom than the first one we visited.
All of this was a great experience. I found out more about myself and about the world we live in. I want to use what I have learned to help myself become more aware and devoted to what I want to do. For now I want to keep learning about art and its influence. If possible I want to use what I have learned to bring forth my visions and criticism of our world.