Preparing for CEPEP- UWI graduating Art class of 2009

Brothers and sisters, I learnt a great lesson here. Never believe in something that does not believe in itself. Never try to help when help was never asked of, never tell the truth when truth does not want to be heard and never consort with those less of you. Only believed in the beauty which Art can bring


Art of the times, Obama, Kanye West, Sex, Death and the casualties of being too casual

Why should I be the martyr of many truths – With Luis Vásquez La Roche – Knifes and Nylon, May, 2009

Any student who graduated from the the Visual Arts Unit of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA), 2009 should ask themselves a key question. Can what I’ve learnt over these four years make me feel confident enough that where I am about to venture into…………, that my qualifications in this field will pave the way to a prosperous and fulfilling career. If anyone paid close attention to the speeches at the open day exhibition, there would be a certain doubt placed on the graduates as to say their art and concepts may be too high to grasp or esoteric in its field. One grasp is that this show reflected work no less than first or second year standards. Works located on the periphery of the main space should not have been accepted.

Seven look puzzled at UWI graduates concepts on Art practice.

Yet, the spoken consensuses was the general weakness from the variety of installations, paintings, sculptures, industrial design pieces which were placed in spaces that were too small. Students opted on the readiness of technology to make a collage of photocopies or that of found objects, video projections as if the four year old brief was executed as a final over the past weekend.

Steve Ouditt, chair of the department well wishing his graduating students to a public who he stressed may not fully understand the artwork produced for their UWI DCFA credited degree

This is not to say that a genesis an of idea can’t happen. An immediacy can give you a rush. But here needs to be practice in the same relationship you would like seen with a tailored garment, a nicely designed pair of shoes or an ergonomically functional mobile phone. Four years of learning a craft. Perfecting it and understanding it. Art is supposed to give hope in a world bombarded with consumerism and throwaways. How many students who showcased publicly their best efforts are eager to re-assemble, functionally use or reinstall their artworks in their living rooms and live with them honestly? Dear graduating class of 2009, your journey has just begun.

Khmama Cox’s cd cover cases which merged as Barack Obama and made up of people of colour who have left their mark in history. This is similar to the photographic work by chuck close. It would have better produced in colour, yet it would have been more difficult to construct the variable tones. See Lisa Brice and Adele Todd’s exhibition, Paradise

A video by Natasha Mahabir debating the etymological use of the word CUNT, one of the stronger works from the show – I rather much prefer, ” He lick down meh nanny – Soca lyric”

Issues and reasons, hypothetically:
Lack of classroom space, lack of equipment, lack of workshops to build work properly. And a credited degree viewed as an easy one to pass. Remember this is Art, I could pelt things together and write something on it knowing that I don’t even understand. – No rocket science in dat.


Addendum to a comment over the meaning of, “Art is suppose to give hope in a world bombarded with consumerism and throwaways.”

The Tracy Emin complexReadymadesLe Déjeuner en fourrure syndrome

The whole purpose of Artmaking, I believe is sacred to the artist. This may be years of toil in expressing in something as in learning, sweat, inner turmoil, skill, social appreciation and finally self acceptance.

Students graduating from any Art programme may have a fear of uncertainty because they may be conditioned by their lecturers to conform to the common norms in Art practice. What’s next is the big question? As for the observer, which is the principle of this blog, all you have is your work. There is no personal history stamped on it to explain why it is. Hiding behind a concept can be gimmicky, whatever you present will be taken for what it is, at face value. But the construction, intelligence and craftsmanship of the object can have a certain beauty that will be remembered. To rely on an in depth acknowledge of the movements in contemporary art only makes a pompous fool of yourself.

If the appreciation of conceptual art is placed for the Elitists alone in the knowing of what it means, then let them eat and digest it in cash. Where were the offers?

Among the objects encased in glass, the spiral plywood structure with a series of photographic stills placed in its centre core, a spring bed with photographs, the video projections, clay body molds, loose sculptures, prints of handmade paper, a video and other props pinned up in and about the building. What really moved you?

Note: UWI Visual Arts DCFA Student exhibition has been extended till June 11th, 2009. Make the effect to see the work. The campus is at Gordon Street, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

26 comments so far

  1. bandi on

    my experience with the program goes back to 2000 and it has always suffered from “Lack of classroom space, lack of equipment, lack of workshops to build work properly.”

  2. Richard Bolai on

    Here is an opportunity for students and faculty alike to voice their concerns.

    1.Ask each student this. Did they think they got a proper education?

    2. Was their work that of its best?

    3. Did the University provide the best to them?

    4. Where the faculty helpful to them in directions they did not understand?

    5.Debate the category which their art work falls into.

    6. Ask the faculty if they were satisfied with the year’s end quality of the work. Dictate what they say.

    7. Protest the conditions which are granted to you.

    8. Thrash out the concerns of what it takes to be in the field of art.

    9.And discuss Michelle Isava as model of what it takes in her desire to be an artist.

    Take minutes, post it writing and send it to the president of UWI

    Amendments to maquette work. What if he staged a photograph of himself throwing a battered cardbox full of the maquettes into a garbage truck with the garbage collectors turning side to side away? Would that have been a stronger concept?

  3. Richard Bolai on

    Dear Lesley Ann,

    As an artist trained as an industrial designer educated in Brazil, you gained two skills. One, how to build something functional, be it a lamp or a table and two, a second language which you can fluently speak. This is what you got from it, and you still maintain the practice.

    The uncouth comments addressed to me where targeted at my ability to think and observed or make an opinion over art works in a public arena. At first, I toyed with it as they came from persons within the UWI art programme. But then, it got too personal. I had to put a stop to it.

    The general observations broached to me by professionals in the field was how did these students get away with work so substandard? And this is the question. What do they have as worth of their education. A few jumbled “Big words” and petty insults can’t be it.

    Best regards,


  4. Richard Bolai on

    Dear reader,

    State who you are and your reasonings over this subject. Rephrase your question without jargon so I may best answer it, if I choose to.

    Best regards

  5. Richard Bolai on

    Dear Lesley Ann,

    As a lecturer and professional designer, Can you acknowledge publicly that you were fully satisfied with the craftsmanship and display over the graduate work? (Lets put concepts, Artspeak aside for the moment)

    Did their standards upkeep with your formal training and experience?


    • Anonymous on

      dear lesley anne, any reason why u used the “are yyou a coolie?” game on facebook and commented that it is “funny? you have indian students as friends on facebook and dont care how they feel? seems prejudice to me

      • Lesley-Ann Noel on

        Dear Anonymous,
        No offense meant. After I thought about it some more, I thought it was inappropriate, and removed that post. If you know me, you should be able to talk to me about that Facebook post in person, via FB or via email, and not in this forum. The person who sent me the post was Indian btw, and is a good friend, and challenged me to do the quiz to see my result.

  6. Lesley-Ann Noel on

    Well Richard,I think (hope) that I got more than just two skills at University, but that is another matter….
    Our curriculum has been changing over the years and the design focus is quite new. We don’t have an industrial design programme. We have Visual Arts programme where students do a mix of projects including design, drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, fine arts, animation, textiles etc. etc. The students chose which direction they want to go in for their final project during their final year, and we are expected to support them and guide them in their process.

    I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a professional finish at this stage, when that is not the objective of the programme. The objective – from where I stand at least is to expose them to a range of topics, art-forms, experiences, and specifically within the Design class where I teach also to expose them to design, designers, process, concepts etc. so in that regard I think that the show was successful.

    If the programme was longer and if we were more focussed on production and studio work, I might have been disappointed, but since our focus is exposure and experimentation, I was generally not disappointed with the final result. Actually the one or two projects that actually did disappoint me were technically sound / superb, but conceptually weak, since technique is a skill that they’ll have time to build on in the future – or they can even pay people to do in the field of design, I have to continue to push for conceptual innovation.
    Hope that answers the question to some extent.

    Come and visit our design class some time next semester. The students are always interested in feedback and challenge.

    In a couple of years I think you

    • Richard Bolai on

      Dear Lesley Ann,

      Thank you for your courage to stand on your profession and of your desire for the best for your students, and that of the difficulties you face at the University.

      This is much needed in debate, to reassure the commitment to the field of questionable Art practice.

      Your words will certainly move mountains.

      Best and warmest regards,


    • Concerned on

      It is interesting for me to read that a lecturer believes that in a BA course it is her only mandate to promote “exposure and experimentation” and nothing further.

      It screams to me the reason why it was my personal choice to seek tertiary education “in foreign” and seeing people who would have had a holistic university experience return home and be part of foisting less on those who seek knowledge at home is heartbreaking.

      Do we understand that when you do this you are propagating the acceptance of mediocrity.

      Now these students knowing no better, knowing no deficiency in themselves and their craft because of the deficiency of the programme they have just completed… no been given honours on completion enter an industry struggling for legitimacy.

      Except these new soldiers are ill equipped and lacking when measured against foreign counterparts.

      The problem starts with you ladies and gentlemen the educators, and its just my opinion but you do no service to any by teaching poor or incomplete lessons.

      • excuses on

        Because you are trained in a skill does not mean that you can teach it. In art it is easy for a teacher to hide behind students that already have ability and blame the ones who you have neglected as being dificult and victimize them.

        Why doesn’t these teacher show us some example of there own work? Teaching africans to make trinkets doesn’t make you a designer. And even if so, does it mean you can teach all areas of design. Maybe de stijl showed you how to put colored pebbles on a string.

        one course that teaches all those thing and the teacher dont have no clue if the work is good or not because she has no knowledge of all those areas.

        ask the student if they were taught properly and challenged or if they were abandoned by this “teacher.”

  7. Anonymous on

    why dont you post about how you stole natasha’s vid and posted it on youtube? you sick theiving SOB. why dont you post this or are you too ashamed of being a worm?

  8. Anonymous on

    this blog has been changed….

  9. efache on

    no insult intended with my previous comments Richard. but I’ve seen you critique the exhibition… and everyone’s opinion is valid. I’ve returned a few times to cc fa to see it, i would want to know your opinion on each piece individually… and excuse my terrible English. English is not my first language.

  10. Richard Bolai on

    Dear efache

    Your lack in command of a language that is not of your mother tongue is an appropriate analogy to describe the difficulties when observing art.

    One can only grasp at the tangible components which they are familiar with, and can only sift through to what it could mean in relationship to what they know.

    Its like in many ways owing a much preferred Apple iphone G3. You are more concerned over the design, craftsmanship, its functionality and that of the personal pleasures it brings.

    I rather not believe you have to be verse in the electronic components of the thing, its makeup of transistors, microprocessors or integrated circuit gold plated circuit boards to come to the conclusion of what it is.

    Art must speak for itself – Its the end result that is most important..

  11. Random SCAD Student on

    Very interesting article… However I would not phrase it in the way you did. Have you overlooked the UWI art program? Have you done “extensive” research? Put yourself in the shoes of a graduate student… You may hardly have any money to fly out, you may be attached to the mainland because of certain reasons…or maybe you just don’t want to leave, however you have to pursue your education at UWI because that is considered one of the most recognized art programs in the country. Coming from one of the best Art and Design colleges in the U.S. has taught me alot about what I have and what I don’t have. What I had when I was back home is people like you…who “label” art, seriously who are you to professionally critique these works (You cannot expect professional work from a STUDENT) and write articles titled “CEPEP”…and keep it up for a couple of weeks, it sadly is still up. This “encouragement” has made me a stronger artist/designer. Just like Lesley Ann I am an Industrial Designer so we think about design on a holistic level however an artist expresses himself… The program isn’t strong, accept that and use supportive vocabulary as opposed to hurtful comments and titles… once stage one has commenced you can move on to step 2 : attaining a curator license.

    Thank you,
    Random Scad Student.

    • Concerned on

      If you only have one it must be the most recognised… and according to people who have done the national certificate in “John D” the later is more comprehensive and gives a sounder grounding. So I would like to know the point of reference from which you are speaking.

      The point I think that these goodly people are making, an albeit a little rough around the edges, is that this programme is weak and we continue to find excuses instead of solutions… it’s young, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the staff… i mean cry me a river… we have made genius with less why have these educators not taken up that mantle?

  12. GC on

    All valid offerings of expression, what i though was rather striking was the ‘Resonance’ in Studio one, on entering there was the piece with the hanging knives, then there was the one on the floor with what looked like bodies as a result of the ravishes of war, there was another large erotic piece where vignettes of human sexuality were essayed, full view arresting mural ‘Icons’ – which to me just embraced all the other surrounding pieces in the room, to chorus the sentiments of passion,struggle and peace.

  13. ooops on

    Richard, you better start deleting more comments or uwi’s chief apologist up there will start getting more real questions she can’t answer.

    Or is she your new best friend coz she is of the same brain level.

    Some teachers are in it for the money and perks. put your portfolio where your mouth is.

  14. Anonymous on

    oh! so now you’re ripping off duchamp. you did this before the student has even shown her work outside of school

    (Be very careful over the tightrope you walk, one slip could make all the difference. This girl to whom you are defending does not want to become artist, she objected over a work that parodied the embodiment and pleasures of owning a CUNT. Focus your energies elsewhere.)

  15. I agree with concerned on

    I didn want top say it but youre right the program is weak… Many things need to be instilled before those students could safely move on.

  16. IS on

    Mr Bolai,
    I would appreciate a response as to why the comments posted below along with others were removed. If you are going to write articles of such a disparaging nature you should at least have the decency and bravery to include everyone’s opinion not just the ones that aim to lend a hand to your article. You are not giving the viewers of this blog as well as the students of UWI a fair and honest chance. ALL opinions positive and negative needs to be displayed. Your blog is undoubtedly skewed.

    Some of the comments that seem to be conveniently removed From

    Roger says:
    May 26, 2009 at 9:05 pm
    “Can what I’ve learnt over these four years make me feel confident enough that where I am about to venture into…………, that my qualifications in this field will pave the way to a prosperous and fulfilling career.”
    What does this even mean?
    “Art is suppose to give hope in a world bombarded with consumerism and throwaways.”
    How exactly did you arrive at this position?
    “Dear graduating class of 2009, your journey has just began.”

    Anonymous says:
    May 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm
    There will always be those with the limited ability to understand anything in the art world. To say that you can throw somthings together and get away with calling it art clearly shows that. Have you read art history, read of the process and the concept development behind the pieces, did you talk with any of the artists?
    I am sorry I don’t agree with what was said in some parts and wish that you could have said what you wrote infront of the graduating class and get the feedback needed to write a review that turly reflects the show…
    …i guess this is why people have blogs…

    Rahhul Chandra Singh says:
    May 28, 2009 at 1:54 am
    Mr. Bolai:
    Your positions on visual culture are sanctimonious. It’s clear that you have very little knowledge of art practice or history beyond the formalists and romantics. And you should admit this. You are a Victorian. What is ‘face value’ in art. When last did you really read or hear that in an intelligent discussion on cultural production. The first responsibility of a commentator is to inform his audience about how his beliefs were informed by a particular discourse [this includes the tangibles of social, political and human factors]. You have not done so. You have just rambled for your pedestrian buddies; none of whom have amounted to anything in art. Now my saying this ought not to rub you the wrong way because the subtext of all your writing is that you espouse best practice. But you obviously do not. Indeed after all these years of writing this drivel you have not had one major essay in a respected publication. For someone who loves writing so much I rather think that you enjoy having opinions, so how about if I ask you to present your ideas for a live audience. I can arrange that. It is not enough to be a Michelle Isava groupie. Tell us why we should look at her work. You need to commit yourself to a proper study of art history and theory. You are way too simple minded. A typical Trinidadian. If you think that I am wrong about my views then I’d like to ask you to have a discussion with me in public. You can invite your Bloomsbury crew and flagwavers. I’ll come alone.
    Rahul Chandra

    roger says:
    May 28, 2009 at 3:43 am
    Most of what I am reading from you is what “Art” is “supposed” to be. This seems to be a very narrow minded view. I too have issues with some of the work at the student show, however it is quite immature to paint the whole show with the same broad brush. You seem to have gone to the show already carrying the heavy baggage of preconceived notions.
    The photos you have used, their captions, and the manner in which you have edited them make it obvious that this is a “hit piece”, meant to insult and discourage.
    You are very well entitled to your opinion, after all this is your blog, however you do yourself a disservice by approaching your critique in such a vitriolic fashion.
    How original would Isava’s work be if everyone else also “screamed and fell to the floor”? Her work is hers and need not be cloned by anyone else. How about appreciating the “silence” of Roberts’ “five hundred broken white maquettes” and trying to perceive the statement behind that? Not every work is going to be made the way you would have it made.

    efache says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:38 am
    … from the seven puzzled persons you have on the picture i know 3 of them , which i personally spoke to , and they were not puzzled at all, actually 2 out of the 3 in the picture are practicing artist. i also wonder why are there pictures modified? for example Luis Vasquez ” on the verge”… which i personally talked to and has nothing to do with Damocles, but more about polarities, tragedy.
    did you personally speak to any of the artist?

    • collin on

      In addition there were comments made that he never even allowed to be posted. The blog has been edited to corrected some of his statements, but he has not openly admitted such.

      But when you’re god of a blog you can rewrite history as much as you like.

      What is amazing is that none of his artist/designer friends have come forth to correct him in this matter openly. It’s sickening that they seem afraid to stand up to this bully. Artist without voices.

  17. Patricia on

    Oh my gosh, you are so full of crap. Was it not you who replied to someone’s message and told them to and I quote, “fuck an inept cow”? It seems as though you are claiming to be the victim in all of this. No on else even used obscenity in your blog. Most of the previous “attacks” came because you kept editing your blog conveniently and you seemed to lack the class and aptitude for reasoned debate. Regardless, your site is nonsense, your article is nonsense and your arguments are inevitably of no consequence to anything or anyone.
    So post that!

    • Roger on

      For some reason he believes that everyone who comments here is associated with UWI in some way. Or does he have an informant?

      Not only the caption was edited but several other parts of the article. And just as I expect no apology from you. You should realize you ain’t getting any from anyone else.

  18. Roger on

    Promote Free Expression
    ● Do not restrict access to your blog by specific individuals or groups
    ● Do not self censor by removing posts or comments once they are published
    ● Allow and encourage comments on your blog
    Strive for Factual Truth
    ● Never intentionally deceive others
    ● Be accountable for what you post
    Be as Transparent as Possible
    ● Cite and link to all sources referenced in each post

    Promote the Human Element in Blogging
    ● Minimize harm to others when posting information
    ● Promote community by linking to other blogs and keeping a blogroll
    ● Build relationships by responding to e-mails and comments regularly

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