Reflection workshop critical thinking and debating

By Omar MarthaScreen Shot 2015-06-25 at 1.31.52 PM-1

What I wanted to achieve with the short workshop was that the students would get a bit of an idea on what it means to actually think critically about things around them. This idea came around because we often notice that the students can’t really explain why they do something, or readily believe anything they are told.

The video series I used for the class is a college level module on the subject of critical thinking. I had them follow the parts that covered what critical thinking is, how to understand arguments, various types of arguments, and how to evaluate an argument someone is using to validate its strength. After watching the videos, they were shown a couple of video fragments and had to evaluate the arguments the people in the video were using based on what they had just seen in the critical thinking videos. The fragments covered people like Dr. Oz making claims about food products that, according to him, should never be eaten. But also fragments from a press conference by Prime Minister Asjes about his recent trip to China.

What I noticed with this part was that some students had issues with the level of English being used. While not anything out of the ordinary, the clips use some big words that the students didn’t seem to be familiar with. The fact that they wouldn’t ask anything if they didn’t understand something meant that I had some trouble gauging how well they were understanding the matter. I tried to solve this by stopping the video and asked targeted questions about what was just explained to see if the students understood or not.

After this they had to participate in a small debate “competition”. Two groups of three students were given a statement —for example “Greentown is a good idea”— and each team was tasked to be either pro or against the statement. They would have to come with well formulated arguments to back up their claims. The students seem to have enjoyed this part quite a lot. A good deal of them would try to do some research on the subject given in the 5 minutes they got to prepare for a round. Certain students though, didn’t really care for the core idea behind the exercise; which was looking at a problem from both (or more) points of view. These students would have an obvious opinion about the subject at hand and would either have a really hard time taking the other side, be very weak in their arguments, or plainly refuse to play the counter side to their opinion. 
I also noted that even when students were tasked with forming arguments along a line they agreed with, they would sometimes have a hard time doing this properly. An example of this was the statement “gay marriage should be legal on Curaçao”.

The majority of students seemed to be pro this statement but failed miserably at defending it.

From what I’ve seen in this short workshop I was able to conclude that I should probably schedule the whole module for the next school year. I would have to spread out the module over a longer time period since it’s a pretty heavy subject. Maybe one day every two weeks. Hopefully this would lead to the students at least having a better grab of the idea of critical thinking and be more free in its usage. 
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Aside of this it’s probably also better to put a stronger emphasis on the academic development of the students. Incorporating reading assignments into the regular presentation assignment could be a way to move in this direction.

Instituto Buena Bista: A report on collaborative projects

By Fiona Henriquez and Marvi Franco Zapata

Introduction

It is known that the IBB is very into collaborative projects and works towards enhancing its experiences and qualities within these activities. In the guidance of the students they’re stimulated to incorporate the social and collaborative component in their later visions as future visual artists.

Collaborative projects are not only valuable experiences for the students but also for us as junior supervisors. The following projects were collaboratives of the IBB and other organisations:

International Women’s Day (Not That Kind of Woman) and Kana Nos Kosta 2015 (Kaminda di Kabritu).

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Project “NOT THAT KIND OF WOMAN”

Description: the event took place on the 8th of march,2015, International Women’s day. This event consisted out of the following 3 parts: a debate about the emancipation of local women in Curaçao, a debate based on two TV series (‘Girls’ and ‘Scandal’), and an art exhibition organised by the IBB.
Collaborators: IBB and the organizer of the event.

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Project “KANA NOS KOSTA” (WALK OUR COAST)

Description: this project took place between 17 and 24 of April, 2015, In the area of Marie Pampoen (MP), Nieuw Nederland and Steenrijk. The purpose of this project week was to better the area or by raising awareness through public interventions on the issue of privatisation of the public space, in this case the coast (beaches).

Collaborators: IBB, University of Curacao (dept. Architecture & Civil Engineering, Socioeconomic faculty and the faculty of Engineering), Supersudaka, 3 sociologists from: Colombia, Belgium, and Bolivia, the University of Medellin (dept.urban design) and representatives of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.

International Women’s Day: Not That Kind of Woman

Our first experience began with an exhibition called ‘Not That Kind of Woman’. It was an exhibition held during an event organised in commemoration of International Women’s day. During the start of negotiations with the organiser, we found that all communication was clear and thus had an overall positive feeling about the project. As the days progressed nearing the event date, stress increased from both parties, and we quickly found ourselves in undesirable situations. The arrangements made were abruptly altered which would have made it impossible for us to install the exhibition.

Another reflective point was that we could not avoid the fact that we were invited to take part in this event as a decorative element. In this case it was a pity that our artworks were seen as such in an attempt to visually enhance the backdrop of their occasion.

To avoid such unwanted situations it would have been wise to have made a contract which both parties could agree on. In order for a collaboration to work well there should be continuous communication so that everyone understands each others needs and wants. The well known term ‘give and take,’ in which mutual concessions and compromises can be made, are evident for such projects to function well. When this is not the case it will often lead to arguments between the two parties. This, of course, is also because each person has their own vision and opinion towards creating what they think is a successful project which will always be a factor in teamwork. After  putting our differences aside it was important for us to stay dedicated and finish what we started. At the end of the day we at the IBB represent a certain level of content and qualities that must be a contribution to the growth and development of  our society.

Kana Nos Kosta 2015: Kaminda di Kabritu

This collaborative project was set up by various organisations with a shared interest in integrating the approaches of social urbanism and participatory processes. These organisations included the Faculty of Technical Sciences of the University of Curaçao Dr. Moises da Costa Gomez (UoC), Facultad de Artes Integradas of Universidad de Medillín (Colombia) and Instituto Buena Bista (IBB). Also within this collaboration were a team of technical advisors/researchers from Université de Louvain (Belgium), the Fundación para la Educación Multidimensional (FEM) from Cartagena and representatives from Latin American architects collective Supersudaca.

The objective of Kana Nos Kosta 2015 was to focus on the spatial and socioeconomic situation of the southern coastal strip in the area running from Nieuw Nederland to Marie Pampoen. Continuing on the background of touristic development of this coastal strip, the socioeconomic pressures that the districts of Nieuw Nederland and Marie Pampoen are experiencing is only getting worse. That is why project Kana Nos Kosta 2015 was of great importance in raising awareness as well as supporting the locals with this problem. The intention of the project was not only collaboration between the organising parties, but also involving the inhabitants throughout the process of debate and creating awareness and possible solutions for the problems before taking action. This however did not occur as there was a lack of time due to the project being scheduled to be completed within one week.

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When wanting to make impact and raise lasting awareness one should realise that one week is too short to accomplish these goals. Collaborating in such a large group with different individuals whom all have contrasting views and opinions on the subject resulted in a somewhat demotivating atmosphere. It should be kept in mind that we were working on this project with about thirty-five people consisting of creatives, architects, and students of the various schools and backgrounds. Instead of complimenting each other through shared knowledge and through that achieving what we aimed for, the team quickly became separated. This meant that each group ended up focused on producing their work based on their own expertise. At the end we ended up not with a collaboration, but with a project done separately and joined together at the end without experiencing each others process. After prolonged brainstorming sessions we came to the conclusion to use the image of a goat as our main way to express our awareness. We reached this conclusion because a goat is recognised throughout Curaçao for being stubborn and creating its own path. From this the project was called ‘Kaminda di Kabritu’ (pathway of the goat), as the goat stands as a symbol for reclaiming its territory.

As a group we brainstormed ideas on how we would design and express our awareness with the goat image. Each group was divided into the following tasks: the stencil team who spray-painted the goat images on the houses along the coastline, the pergola team who were in charge of building a wooden pergola on the location of ‘playa bonita’ (beautiful beach), then there was the furniture team whom were in charge of building seats for the inhabitants, and last but not least the team for creating goat sculptures which were placed along the coastline.

After the project we were approached by upset inhabitants because we had not communicated in advance what our plans and purposes were concerning the Kaminda di Kabritu. A few neighbours were not happy with the goat stencils on their walls, as well as being concerned that the pergola would attract the wrong public to make use of it and who would leave all their trash behind. With a team of IBB and UoC teachers we approached these neighbours to explain the purpose of our project and had hoped to reach a compromise. We quickly realised that we would have to remove the stencils on three walls, which we completed within a week. Instead of resolving these issues in a collaborative fashion, they were left for a small group to resolve. The international participants left for their respective countries under the false impression that they have completed a successful project. We regard these factors as an indication that Kana Nos Kosta 2015 was not a successful collaborative project.  When looking into the definition of collaboration we find the following:

“Collaboration is working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organisations work together to realise shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective determination to reach an identical objective —for example, an endeavour that is creative in nature— by sharing knowledge,learning and building consensus.”

With this information it can be concluded that Kana Nos Kosta 2015: ‘Kaminda di Kabritu’ was a total failure as well as not leading up to its goals such as the important factors of continuity, social engagement, and development as a project for the neighborhood and for the status of Kana Nos Kosta projects.

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Reflection

Collaborative projects van be positive or negative, but they are always learning experiences that you can use for personal growth. We can apply lessons learned in these two projects to upcoming projects that involve working with other parties. An example of this will be the upcoming project involving Instituto Buena Bista and Teatro Kadaken, a theater school on Curaçao. We believe that this project has a good chance of success as both organisations are working from a creative starting point. The lessons learned during the ‘Not That Kind of Woman’ project are some that will be valuable during this project. In the theater world props and background can be seen as decoration, this is a direction that we do not wish to take with the works produced at IBB. Collaborations should mean that both parties respect each other’s expertise and should focus on complimenting each other in producing and reaching their end product/presentation. We think that a person in the project that is able to view both sides of the collaboration from a neutral standpoint can be very advantageous to the project. This person’s job would not be to decide who is right or wrong, but experiencing the project in such a way that they can resolve or prevent unwanted issues. This could have been a great addition to the projects that we have already participated in.

Concluding, collaborations have been a tremendous learning experience for both IBB students and it’s staff. We hope to continue working in this fashion with other communities, companies, etc. An important point for the next project is that verbal agreements should be written down as both parties can benefit from the clarity this brings. It can also form a good basis for properly planning out the projects.In the end we are all humans. Humans that can make mistakes or forget agreements. This way we can make a proactive move towards avoiding situations where frustrations and irritations arise form misunderstandings faulty memories. In spite of all the disappointments and changes in verbal agreements we made beforehand, as a group, we persevered and managed to deliver a good art exhibition.

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the DOEN foundation visits IBB

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A meeting with Stichting DOEN (the DOEN Foundation) (Steve Elbers and Nicole Rietveld) with IBB and a number of specifically invited guests, including people of Teatro KadaKen, education (the Media School), the Curaçao Museum, NAAM and people of the Capriles clinic.

Date March 11, 2015, location IBB / Esmeralda, 14:30 – ca.17.00 hours

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Topic of discussion, which is the reason for an open exchange of thoughts with students and stakeholders:

CULTURE the meaning, value and added value for men, his environment and society.

Youth and culture; present and future. The social role that culture-bearers / artists and creatives can (should) have for society (art, ‘the social care’).

Collaborations and new references for the youth’s future.

A short report of the meeting and a push for a follow-up appointment:

Following are the above statements or topics according to the IBB- students what is typical Curaçao culture. It was striking that especially the stereotypical things emerged such as the “Seú” (the harvest festival), Carnival and more folkloric expressions. Comments were that many of these things are especially “easily consumable” or are in the generally accepted aspects / conditions, which should remain especially cozy and nice. It was also indicated that our culture is determined by the spiritual context of the environment, including religion as a fairly compelling or rather ever-present factor.

The history -including the history of slavery –  was considered both an understandable emphasis in determining the identity, on the other hand also unilaterally (or even wrong) proclaimed / interpreted and explained to be the ultimate history. The volatility of trends and fashions also play a role.

It was one of the guest artists who argued that art is something else, and he arose confusion into the discussion.

Art is part of the culture and determines / influences / is highly reflective to the culture.

It was stressed that in Curaçao with the disappearance of the theater building Centro Pro Arte, the quality of theater reached a low and also the budgets for equipment, props and scenery have visibly deteriorated. While theater is almost gone together with the CPA building, the popular comedy flourishes. Quality is constantly under pressure from commercial and superficial trends, mediocrity reigns supremely and on the Curaçao political agenda it unjustly has no priority.

Art should deal with difficult and critical issues and express, or at least have no restrictions or obstacles encountering its position in a culture. Because art contributes to greater self-knowledge, appreciation (personal and collective eventually) more awareness and let people look at the environment, history, and to each other. On the other hand it has also been said that art should not only deal with the heavier stuff, but also of be about  joy and love.

The conclusion is that art works binding and constructive, people can sensitise and should and can fight prejudice. As for IBB it is one of the reasons to choose the basis of a psychiatric site. With the opening of a second building, ‘Esmeralda’, where there is more space for our collection (works of the guest artists, the best works of the students and patients), there is a potential new spot on Curacao for different aspects, references, insights and all of this in one objective space, which can be leading to bubbly new mixtures.

Partly because we (IBB) have invited other parties with whom we are already working, or are in the process of, a plan and program for Esmeralda as a basis for socio-cultural projects, can be formed. The psychiatric clinic Capriles is evident in this, because we are on their property and daily interaction between art, social awareness, responsibility and psychiatry takes place there. That in a quite natural way, in accordance with specially developed projects and ad-random the daily walking in and out of patients at IBB. Patients don’t feel as patients with them, because IBB represents a certain autonomy, neutrality and sanctuary and the students work on their artistic future. During this meeting on March 11, IBB has besides some works by the students and a sculpture of a former artist-in-residence, an object shown from the archive of Capriles. An old ‘shock therapy’ object, which in shape  can be an art artefact, but certainly has been a practical and therapeutic tool. Such mixtures are interesting to display more frequently in the near future and to provide more context.

However, with only show we are  not there yet. There must be mediated, theoretical frameworks are formed, educational and training pathways are created which lead to more support and represent the multi-functional objectives and target groups that we want to let take place in the Esmeralda.

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Sequel

Therefore we are happy to talk with the various parties: theater KadeKen http://www.teatrokadaken.org/, Media School http://mediaschoolcuracao.com, representatives of the Capriles Clinic http://www.ggz.cw/pap/, the Museo di Korsou http://www.thecuracaomuseum.com and NAAM (National Archeological Antropological Memory Management http://www.naam.cw)

Several partners are conceivable and desirable in the near future.

The next meeting will be at the NAAM Johan Walbeekstreet 1, the date will follow soon.

With regards,

Tirzo Martha and David Bade

Tilting Axis

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First impression

David: To be honest, at first I had a prejudice of what the conference was going to be. Because of my past experiences I grew accustomed to the fact that most of the times there was a lot of talking, less actions and very few tangible results. But within this short time of 2 days, this was not the case at all. The whole approach and the focus was to come to concrete and clear results. I think this was a good thing and I am positive about this. We had to take steps to get somewhere. They gave us cases we had to work on and present and come up with some real proposals.  “Collaboration,”and  “exchange” are all very nice funding words but they have been used so much that now they’re becoming empty words. I have all the confidence that something will happen this time around.

The fact is that we will invite a new person over to IBB from Jamaica, Deborah Anzinger. Her name sounds like a Germain Jamaican, David jokes. She is the director of an art platform called NLS and we will visit her as well on our trip to Jamaica.

During our visit to Jamaica, we will visit the Edna Manley College, an academy of the Visual and Performing Arts, formerly known as the Jamaica School of Art and Craft. They teach also drama, music and dance.

Tirzo: Two things I find very important about the Tilting Axis conference:

The old guard and the usual faces were absent and there was fresh blood there. That was refreshing, to have that fresh blood who are open to new ways, perspectives and visions. Another thing I found interesting was that it wasn’t about the artist as individual but about art itself. About the society, the added value of art for the society and how you can contribute to the development of art education and formation thru social cultural art projects.

David: we sat in work groups or sub groups and got the questions: Are we just here to meet each other or will we do something from now on? They proposed to me too, now that next year we will exist for 10 years, to let our art collection travel within the Caribbean region. Now our network has expanded, with these new people and the idea to have our art travel in the region visiting all the different art platforms, sounds very appealing.

Annalee Davis was here like 3 years ago, talking about networking, and now to me it indeed proved to be very useful.

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Tirzo: Collaboration is not necessarily in one form only. It can also be to assist or to support. For example: a lot of art initiatives say they have a lack of financial means. They don’t have money for a website for example. To let some company make a website can costs thousands of dollars, but if for example we at IBB can make a website for another art initiative we can support each other in this way. We can exchange our services, knowledge and capacities to one another, as everyone is good at one thing. It’s much cheaper and by doing this we can also generate funds. 

We didn’t know every one at the conference. The people we already knew were Elvis Lopez from Aruba, the Fresh Milk team from Barbados, Nicholas Laughlin from Alice Yard Trinidad & Tobago, the representative from Martinique, Caryl and Holly Bynoe from ARC magazine.

The countries we were pleasantly surprised to have met, because we thought there would be mostly English islands, were Dominican Republic and Brazil. 

Tirzo: It was of great satisfaction to meet and speak with people from the French speaking islands,  Martinique, and also to acknowledge the presence of a representative from the Dominican Republic.

David: There was a really good vibe and energy. The movie made about the conference truly represented how it was: nice, sweet, a bit soft, with this good message-vibe.

Tirzo: I think that art education was an important detail during the conference, which I find very important. In Martinique there was also a conference that I attended which was specifically about art education in the Caribbean. Art education is a complicated thing in the Caribbean. The references are elsewhere, or the references are absent, the ratios don’t make sense. A lot of artists have studied in Europe or the States but how many people can bring their references on one line here in their home country or in the country where they’re studying, it’s difficult. It’s all in subparts: You have Caribbean art,  Latin-American art, Western art, art from the US or art from the East. There are always all the different inputs but it never comes together as a whole.

It’s all fragmented where as in practice it should be more tangible for students who want to study in Europe for example to know their ‘art heritage’  and its position in the whole context of the global art. How do the Caribbean artists that studied in Europe and return, pass on or deal with their knowledge.

I’m from another era, of in which I know for example a lot about Latin-American and Caribbean art. So all the references I had was based on the Latin-American and Caribbean art. But when you go to Europe, it’s all vanished there, it is totally ignored and the only thing they talk about is Western art. So when you get to the Caribbean, to what degree will you find all the mentality, structures, references and materials in the right ratio with reality? Where all the elements, all the components are being brought together. That’s why I always found it odd about Wilfredo Lam. People find him important because he was with Picasso. How does this make it relevant to us here. There is something more, something else. It’s not about the figure or the places. It’s about the art. 

It should in a natural way come together. Because what you can learn here, can be lost in Europe. I sometimes hear students say that others see their art as west-european art. This is actually a bad signal. It should be about art, to what extend will you get another element and add it, or ignore it and do as if it doesn’t exist. In Martinique for example they have very different references.

David: It was not only good for me to be at the conference to network as in meeting new people but also to make appointments of intention. To make it official. It was a good energy and why it was so important because we actually don’t really know each other. It’s a large region but everyone lives literally on their own island. We know little or nothing really from each other.

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Tirzo: The circumstances might seem similar but we are totally different each one of the islands. We might have some similarities being in certain conditions, as we have all been colonies in the past. Even between Aruba and Curaçao there are so many differences. These two islands, as close as they are, have a different approach towards things. How they deal with their history for example, or how they misuse their history, often. 

In Europe it’s the same thing: We share the same history, Napoleon,  Charles the Great, all those battles and countries conquered, there are fractions of similarities you share, but if  you pick Romania and compare it with Slovakia, they are totally different even though they’re in the same continent. There are links with the language but each one has his own identity, mentality, history and culture. It’s the same in the Caribbean, and it’s actually a beautiful characteristic that we should appreciate more instead as seeing it as a burden.

Tirzo: The Caribbean is not a one thing. The geographical area yes, but the Caribbean identity doesn’t exist. But the Caribbean is an example of the possibilities, mixtures and reality.

David:But there is a layer placed over the Caribbean. The African continent has that too, much stronger. I don’t hear a Moroccan or Egyptian African say this, but as the person gets darker, literally, they say they come from “Africa”. I’m an African, although one is a Nigerian and the other is an Ugandan. They both say they are African. In Europe we don’t do that. We don’t say we are European. They try to get us there, we have the euro, but when you introduce yourself you say you’re Norwegian or Belgium. A person from Aruba won’t introduce himself and say: I’m a Caribbean. Not yet anyways.

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Frans & Rienus Franciscus

Frans and Rienus Franciscus are a Dutch art duo. They are staying 4 months at Instituto Buena Bista, doing the residence program from Januari until April 2015.  We asked them about their stay, their background and how they work.

F: I see myself more as a romanticist than a politician. More a psychological romanticist than a activist romanticist. My paintings can result with a message in them,  but when I’m making them I can’t stand next to them. So I can’t stand next to it and explain what it means. It should strike with beauty. But beauty is a relative term, I can’t please everyone. So the mission as a artist to make a beautiful painting is there and the next level would be to translate a work for example, I make a version of the classic french painter Anne-Louise Girodet Trioson, the scene Le Deluge, about the Flood, it has a meaning. But maybe if someone sees it in 20 years, it won’t. Although it’s a classic. Anyway, a real activist political mission I don’t have. In our photography for example now that we are in Curaçao, we could have our criticism about the society here, and we might have it secretively, as we have criticism on Dutch society, but we are thinking to photograph a maffia figure and romanticise him, without judgement. We don’t want to put a nasty person there. The person must be immediately recognisable by the Curaçaoan eyes.

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Above: The Flood by Anne-Louise Girodet Trioson | Under: Tsunami by Frans Franciscus

R: It’s super fun to discover what is Curaçao though. We do this by doing everything and moving everywhere. We don’t like vacation for vacation, that is boring. This is the ideal way for us to get to places that we normally wouldn’t go to or and doing things we normally won’t do.  We don’t have the truth of who is a typical Curaçao person to photograph, we will show our interpretation. The truth doesn’t exist, it’s not about that. We will place the ambience where the viewer can discover something about himself into the photography. And this again without pointing with a finger.

F: We are here for 4 months, it’s impossible to really form an opinion here. If you would stay here even for a long time, you still only have one vision, one point of view.

R: We are not part of Curaçao, we leave. This sometimes actually works. We make this series already for 4 years but we decide and make the final choices. Because we get a huge amount of persons who voluntarily want to pose. But we want to feel a story to go with. The story goes in layers, it can have a historical layer, it could be a cliché, we can put a archetype, any story really, we want to put a certain image. That image for Curaçao, to capture Curaçao we try to discover while we are here. It will have all these different layers in it. We learn as we go.

When we go to the supermarket for example, we see the mix of Dutch and Papiamentu in the products, in the language what we hear. Or on the street we see Robbie’s lottery everywhere. Then we do some research about Robbie and discover this maffia layer with him. Or when we shot the actress Rina Penso, she gave us 4 Curaçao feature films, these movies are a treasure, a richness in images.

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F: We went to Kurá Hulanda museum to find objects and oddly enough we watched a movie they showed as an introduction with this whole biblical history in it. It was totally unclear. A painting of Caravaggio occurs in the movie. It’s the painting where Abraham is at the point of sacrificing his son Isaac to God but God tells him to stop, he sees his faith is real. He can kill the goat instead. I actually  have this story already 10 years in my mental library to do something with. Now suddenly finally I can do something with it here.

A white dominating Dutch Abraham who sacrifices a young black Curaçaoan boy. There is the allegory. The sounds are hens, dogs, cats, goats. They become ingredients in the painting. It is a complicated proces but all falls into place.

F: My parents are nothing but amazing, they never inhibited me in my art career. On the contrary.  My dad had a plumbing company, as did his dad. He started in the business at age 16. My mother only had elementary school and joined him in the company when they got married. Both were very liberal. My dad was a amateur painter and draftsman. Every Saturday morning till noon he went to an painting club where they did drawing and painting. My sister sculpts for already 40 years although she’s a pedagogue. The funny thing is, and I never got this, when I eventually went to do art school by father was blissfully happy. It was his dream to do this but he worked in the family business since young and had to provide. They got my sister when they were 19 years old, different times, but when I  started the art academy he completely seized drawing and painting!  As if he passed the torch. And my name Frans Franciscus, actually my first name is Franciscus, like my dad. I took his first name as my surname. People needed to know the difference with my work and my dads work. That’s how it started. My parents are still alive and well and they visit all my exhibitions. They have so much of my work in their home.

R: I was always the best in drawing at my elementary school and everyone was always talking about that, which I completely forgot. Recently there was a class reunion and that is what they all recall about me. I was very good with my hands, with hammering, sculpting, anything with the hands. I always was in the creative sector, never really left it. I went into fashion and graphic design, all different disciplines within the creative sector. I’m passionate about everything. I let it all come to me. I can really get into things that I don’t make myself. I’m crazy about art and what people do. I get passioned about very different things within art that have to do little with myself. It’s complicated to say though when I’m satisfied with a work I made myself. At a certain point something is done. I’m used to do commissioned or assigned work and have deadlines. In that aspect it’s only natural to feel satisfied when done, this I’m used to and I’m good at. But in the arts, it’s more tricky, sometimes I find my works really bad. Then it’s very nice to work with Frans to get his feedback. There are days I can’t look at it, with it’s up and downs. I can’t say that when it’s done that I can be satisfied, no.  There is no way to tell because it’s always under development.

F: As for me, I’m a visual artist since 1986 and have made about 500 paintings. I know the process and when I finish a painting I need to put the painting away for 4 weeks. I have been looking at it for so long, I need to take that distance, I then get it again and I will know: this is it.

I know the timing when to distance from the work and Rienus is still searching for that moment. He is while editing the photos literally on the screen and won’t see it anymore.

I bike home from my studio back to the city and I think: Oh what have I’ve been doing all day? it’s hideous!  Then I go home and cook and do the daily chores and let it go. Which helps me look fresh again the next day.

Rienus paints too, digitally. He uses all types of brushes, that come in all different sizes and hardness, different shapes of brushes, he is drawing in the program. Rienus: I paint with light, light is photography.

F: Rienus works with all the buttons, executing and I’m behind the button, sort of, saying it should go there and there, higher or lower.

R: It’s a very pleasant process to do together.

F: It’s hard to explain how we work exactly. People ask it a lot: who does what exactly? We both aren’t real photographers.

R: We just use photography as a medium, we are not photographers, no way.

We are working already 4 years on the According to Hans Memling series. We love to let the different time eras cross each other, all in the romanticism setting. Romanticism is of all ages. 

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Above: Portrait of Jacque of Savoy by Hans Memling, Under: Portrait of Rina Penso by Rienus & Frans Franciscus

R: In general we think it’s a good thing to keep telling a story. It’s good to repeat a story.

F: I will explain this to the IBB-students. We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors. We should take advantage of this and make much use of our heritage.

Here at IBB it is a lot about reflection, flashy and to in short time make large works, monumental works.

Our approach however is about re-telling a story, a much told story, but with your very own interpretation. It’s not about copying or imitating, it’s about emulating. A tad further. 

It doesn’t matter that the story is told a thousand times, you tell it with a different hue, a different sound. It doesn’t even have to be perfectly original in the execution,  to figure out a total new invention, because still your own version will come out.

R: The story goes about the story.

If after 5 years we return to IBB what could be different? We were very enthusiastic about being here. We were amazed and still are. We think the students here are even spoiled. With all the equipment to their disposal and all the studio spaces they have. But the students need to be pushed so much. The mentors have to kick their buts so many times to keep working. In the Netherlands this will not happen. We, however, are not teachers and don’t do anything educative. We hate to evaluate, because each work is just a facet and just a moment of the process.

We would if we would return in 5 years be nostalgic about it: like oh wow, how it changed and which students maybe would have already returned to the island…as artists.

 

IBB block seminars go public

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‘Perspectives’, IBB makes workshops publicly accessible

The Instituto Buena Bista, IBB, has already been for nine years the place for contemporary art and education on the island. With an international and local residence program, in which artists from far and nearby react visually on Curaçao and develop work; this work gets to be exhibited and partly  taken into the IBB art collection. In this way IBB works relentlessly to establish quality and continuity. Durability for our culture,  heritage, and renewing of the accretion of new creatives. Additionally the students get to follow a preparatory course for their further education, offered within an ample range of possibilities, media and new ways of thinking.   

The latter is very important and forms one of the functions of art: looking at things in a different way, at the people, at the now, at the past and within their contexts. By locating IBB on the premises of the Klinika Capriles, where they work together with psychiatric clients and the staff, there is already an outspoken gesture of engagement. The clients of Capriles are often not taken seriously by the community as they don’t comply with the ‘normal requirements’ of society. Art shows alternatives, different perspectives and insights. It enlarges life’s quality because it widens the sense for other people and the sense for society. Art brings you closer in touch with others and with your surroundings.

IBB believes that artists have great responsibility towards society. Broadening references, asking the eternal question of what art is, brings change, pause, disturbance, and resistance; sometimes one by one, sometimes all at once. How so?

Because art in essence isn’t commercial and won’t serve ones practical convenience. For this we have the large commercial advertising campaigns of companies, the entertainment industry, objects, political propaganda, who makes us –meek sheep– believe this and buy! Art however, makes us sensitive in a different way. It fights the indifference in how we are used to look at things and form opinions, enlarges self-knowledge and thus the openness to new perspectives and to look critically again; leaving our comfort zone.

All of the above, the sharing of the expertise and many more reasons are our motivation to make the workshops open to public: everyone, whether amateur, professional or just interested. Workshops are the classes at the IBB divided in blocks of 2 to 4 weeks with a subject, theme and/or technique of one of our coaches or guest artists. The formation of our students is our highest priority, but we recognize that change and improvement can only really be achieved when a broad public supporting it. On that note, everyone is welcome to sign up or get more information via avantia@institutobuenabista.com. The workshops themselves are free, but the participant has to pay for the materials to be used. Together we can figure out the possibilities to fit your schedule into ours.

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The next workshop we will offer publicly is the workshop by our current resident/guest artist Frans Franciscus. http://www.fransfranciscus.nl

Please check out the link to their blog about Curaçao! In the week of 16-20 of March he will teach several painting techniques and lay the foundation of a large mural that he will execute later in public space.

Curaçao meets Martinique in the new Caribbean art education

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Campus Caribbean Arts (CCA) is a regional school that has a vocation of higher education, research and multidisciplinary professions in arts.

The structure was created on 1 December 2011 by the Martinique Region, initiated by president Serge Letchimy as well as that of regional governments, to implement a radical reformed project in art education for Martinique.

Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) is for already nine years the place for contemporary art and education in Curaçao. Students get to follow a preparation course for their further education, offered within an ample range of possibilities, media and new ways to look. Additionally IBB runs an international and local residence program, in which artists from far and nearby react visually on Curaçao, develop work and this gets to be exhibited and partly taken into the IBB art collection.

Both institutions came together signed a protocol of cooperation agreement to govern the exchange of students and a memorandum of understanding.

It all started as  CCA was celebrating their 30 anniversary and asked artists in the region to give a workshop. The connection was already made with Tirzo Martha, co-founder of IBB, CCA was familiar with him because of an exhibition held by Foundation Clément in 2010, but also by a teacher who did her PhD and of which Tirzo was one of her case studies. The signing of these agreements for collaboration, which took place in Fort-de-France Martinique, is of great importance for the developing and deepening of art education in the Caribbean region. Both the IBB and the CCA are aware of how important collaboration and exchange are for art education in the Caribbean. The necessity and urge to create the references and the materials to provide good education are the driving forces behind this collaboration. Its goal is to create not only great artists and visionaries but also a Caribbean community with much more awareness and appreciation for their visual arts.

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Tirzo Martha: The Caribbean has a very specific position in the world of arts that can’t be defined elsewhere. In no place art education and history comes together, every part has it’s own place. In the Caribbean it DOES come together. We have the possibilities and structure to globalise art and have our own art theories. We support each other with knowledge and experience we can strengthen each other.

The IBB students are much more experimental, very much free and loose in their approach to work. CCA  is much more structured, as a well-oiled machine, due to the French Caribbean bureaucratic approach. Both approaches give result and the art institutionss learn from them either way. Consequently new propositions for art education can come forth.

In another article the story of IBB-student Sigiene Justina will be told. He will be the first IBB-student that will study in the region, that is at CCA, Martinique.

This tendens IBB wants to continue with:  more collaboration within the regional areas in contemporary art.

Jamaica is next on the list.

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Mid-term students 2014-2015

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In the recent months we have been working hard at the IBB preparing ‘portfolio students’ of class of 2014/2015 (from the current 35 students, after a minimum first year at IBB get the green light to prepare themselves for a follow-up study).

The preparation consists of several parts which are of great importance for not only to be accepted for the respective programs, but also for the successful completion and achievement of the creative study(so far mostly at applied art academies and MBO trainings in the Netherlands). Techniques, knowledge and skills are important aspects, but to be talented and have skills, is certainly not the only thing and not enough for a successful sequel. The focus in preparing the students  is both their talent as their personal development. Formation to feed the existing qualities and develop the necessary components that are motivation, attitude and discipline is what should keep the students sharp. To develop your gift also means that you need to study more to develop your visual work of both content and quality. Education means to IBB therefore formation. In the broad sense, the general cultural development and the specific training, tailored and developed in constant interaction with the student and his/her coach is key. The contemplating, making and presenting of the works are the basic elements that are used to provide targeted assistance to the students. Each student will receive personal guidance fitting him or her to provide more insight into which advanced study is most suitable.

The four mid-term students all got the green light to proceed with their portfolio. These portfolios should be ready end of March, so that we can bring these to the academies and introduce the students in the Netherlands and Martinique in April. The founders of IBB usually do this themselves. In most cases we maintain a follow-up with Skype talks with the students and so far -since 2006 – we put as described more than 34 former pupils of the IBB on track.

The next three months they get next to their regular classes and assignments also additional jobs to supplement their portfolios and ensure the correct ratio in work and media. Quality development has to do with precision and that involves all areas of this process.

We give below a brief up-date of the four selected students and their status in this exciting process of their development:

Shudarley Anthony

In the case of Shudarley we can say that Shudarley has a special gift for painting (often recognised and confirmed by renowned guest artists at IBB). In recent years we have seen her develop simple paintings to more articulated and advanced work. In recent months we also saw a strong inner battle that came between her and her work. A struggle due to choices she had to make and the search for depth in her work. A depth that is only possible by means of study, something she quite struggles with. Shudarley is one of the students at IBB, who has no high-school diploma. Dropout, auto didactic, but now in the middle of her formation and development which is growing into something beautiful.

Through our good contacts with academies and a trust that has grown mutually, we have managed to arrange that these students through IQ and other tests get a chance to go to college anyway. In the case of Shudarley we are now working extra hard to walk all the different ways to get her into college.
Momentarily she is presenting her work, writing and presenting reports and broadening her knowledge of art history. We have great con
fidence in her abilities, her self-confidence should continue to grow and also the parents and their role in this has our attention.

Sigiene Justina

Sigiene has multiple  talents such as drawing, painting and sculpting. Over the years we have seen him develop into each of these mentioned disciplines. In his case, it is not that he (at the moment) excels in one them, but rather develops a special talent in combining all these skills that lead to very rich and complicated installations.
From the beginning of his trajectory at IBB it was clear that there is an inner battle going on between him and his personal background, which has led to the production of many works. Coming from an economical challenged environment thereby triggers mainly negative side effects, not only economically but also morally/spiritually, he is still very positive in life. The possibility of his future work in the creative sector, in his case, the visual arts, has become his main motivation to bring a change in the fate of his life. A dream/reality which can come about only through study.
Besides that he is intrinsically motivated to work, he is also an example for the student IBB: his social skills and the responsibility he takes on himself.  An example of this is that he has been tasked to manage all the tools and materials, and he also assists students with the operation of the tools.
At this time, we also work with him on his planning and improve his English, Dutch and especially an introduction to French, which is part of his preparation for his future at the art academy in Martinique.
Through his consistent progression, his qualities and tremendous perseverance, we have built over the years a lot of confidence in his abilities.
He will almost certainly (partly depends on finances and SSC) be the first student of IBB in the region – Martinique – for his advanced studies. This art school  IBB signed a formal cooperation agreement with in 2014.

Sindey Koeiman

Sindey who now works on her final year at IBB is very talented in painting and drawing. At the beginning of her studies her paintings and drawings were still very cliché and childlike. Now we are almost two years further and can say that we are truly proud how she has developed, not only in her work but also how she has shown a positive progression in her general development and personality.  Through study she has broadened her reference, though her work from cliché and childish to more mature, more advanced work, she attempts to better understand the world she lives in.
Something that was clear from the beginning is that she tends to being in a melancholic state from time to time, which is related to an unpleasant home situation.
Where we are now working with her, is to critically look at herself and her own work. Something she still struggles with. This we address by giving her additional research to do and theory lessons, which are part of the expanding / enhancing her framework and thereby increasing her self-awareness and perspective. Skills that only through study, practice and perseverance are possible and eventually become a habit. Widening and exploring her knowledge and spiritual baggage is necessary to further grow her development.

Jessica Dorado

This student has a very special talent for painting and drawing as well. At the start of 2013 and in submitting her portfolio to enter the IBB we immediately saw her base talent. In the past eighteen months we have seen her grow into other media, including sculpture, performance and installation. Another aspect that has been clearly developed further in her is her perseverance. At the beginning of her study program at IBB she sometimes gave up  hope, or despaired thinking she would fail  the so-called norm. This changed when  she enriched her knowledge through study and applied it in her work. By giving substantive context to her work, she is getting better at translating her experiences to highly defined results.
Jessica is a hard worker, so she sometimes is too focused on one job and as a result other works qualitatively suffer due to lack of time / attention. We do our best to improve her and to help her manage her urge to perfection. The students receive a rigorous planning / schedule  so that they organize themselves and their working proces better. In addition to a tight schedule, extra attention is paid by giving additional and specific assignments so she can realize that, or at least be conscious of the fact that the craft (the technique of painting for example) does not have to always be complicated to do. She now learns how at a faster pace and in many ways you still can deliver qualitatively strong work.
Another stumbling block for her is the language barrier. Jessica is originally from Colombia, so that means that her mother tongue is Spanish. She can speak and write in Dutch (she has graduated high school), so one would think there is no question of a language barrier. In her case the applying of the language in presentations is the difficulty. By doing additional presentation she exercises and this improves her confidence and language skills. Again that practice, study and perseverance are the key to making this possible. However, this young lady certainly has these keys and dedication.

In short, great programs that have been of great value to the future of these young creatives from Curacao and ultimately for our country.

Written and compiled by Fiona Henriquez and Marvi Johanna Zapata, edited by David Bade.