Our fall intern Emily Coker comments on La Vaughn Belle’s multi-media approach to her exhibition When the Land Meets the Body.
After taking a stroll through the exhibition When the Land Meets the Body created by La Vaughn Belle it is clear that Belle possesses many artistic talents in many forms. This exhibition includes drawing, painting, photography, videography, and installation. All of these mediums are successful in conveying Belle’s ideas and allow viewers to embrace themes expressed through different forms of art. It is quite rare for an artist to successfully use multiple mediums instead of focusing on just one.
This exhibition focuses on the idea of unbecoming a colonial being. A topic that is so important to Belle that she gave the audience multiple mediums to provide different entry points into her work and the themes behind them. Everyone responds to different mediums of art in different ways. Some may be more impacted by paintings while others may be more impacted by photography. By conveying her ideas in multiple art forms she is making her voice and ideas more accessible to others.
To me personally, Belle’s collages from her series Storm (How to Imagine the Tropicalia as Monumental) are the most impactful in sharing the devastation of colonialism. These collages were created from works of art that were destroyed in 2017 by Hurricane Maria. Instead of tossing out these paintings and drawings she took the salvageable parts of the work and created something new. This correlates directly to most of the themes Belle is conveying. Colonial powers divided the Virgin Islands into plantations cultivated by enslaved labor. This work is symbolic of the piecing together of parts of the Caribbean landscape and identities and making something new. This work is about the meeting, the convergence of reality – When the Land Meets the Body.