Rainbow trees is a reminder of the lush, tropical interiors of the rain-forest in Grenada. I recall traveling through Grand Etang which is 1910 feet above sea level and feeling the cool mist that always hovers over the atmosphere. Home to a crater lake, this forest evokes early memories of traveling through Grenada and seeing the rainbow tree.
Born in 1981 on a small Caribbean Island in Grenada, Tricia Bethel happened to convince herself that art was her calling. Due to the meager value her community placed on art during her upbringing, she decided it was imperative to pursue her education in International Relations and seek a career that would sustain her instead. Considering the circumstances, it was a logical thing to do, however, being unable to find a career in her field, still turned to art and teaching to sustain herself.
Her early practice came from creating crafts, making Barbie Doll dresses and pencil drawings. She began using colors at the age of 14. She was the go to person for drawing at her school which all helped in enhancing her artistic abilities. Her inability to pursue a career in art didn’t stop her from eventually spending dedicated time teaching herself to paint, watching online art instructional videos and learning about art history. She also frequented art galleries and museums, soaking up everything in sight.
Tricia’s art happens to be very diverse due to her need to always explore new ways of painting. Every canvas shows a constant evolutionary shift from folk art to realism to postmodern art; impressionism, expressionism and even abstract art. If she was not exploring the idyllic beauty of her hometown, she would be creating portraits or exploring abstract expressions. Lately her paintings in abstraction allows for deeper self-expression and less perfecting of form. Her portraits often depict women of color, exploration of identity, race & culture. Despite her flamboyant taste for experimentalism, she is fully aware that the art world creates and recognizes artists whose works are based on theory and are identifiable. Her art however continues to show a restless exploration of self and surrounding.
Today she has attended several group exhibitions in Grenada, USA, Barbados and China including her own solo exhibitions twice.
After moving to China, Tricia was no longer surrounded by the beauty she grew up with and faced a challenge of finding ideas to paint. Although she was encouraged to paint Asian themes as this can attract a market, she could not see nature in sky scrapers and high-rises or among the busy traffic. Coupled with that and having to deal with identify crisis and displacement, she was forced to look internally. She started exploring her origin and decided that there is no way that her art should not reflect her past origin- an Afro Caribbean identity. Travel helped to re-enforce just that. That’s when she decided to couple her love for portraits with black history, exploring the Tignon law and Afro American/ Caribbean women through her portraits. She is interested in later merging her series of portraits with the idea of Afrofuturism creating a series of feminine portraits with colorful features in order to explore nationality and colonialism and to focus more on her upbringing, history and culture.
Shortly following this series she again changed cities having lived in Beijing and Shanghai and her art has taken another turn for abstraction and abstract figurative. She has found a way to include the city in her abstract paintings. In her words she says “Being a self-taught artist allows me to explore any movement and not limit myself unless I am sure of the direction I wish to take. I feel myself being influenced all the time and therefore I constantly feel a need to change what I do just for the mere curiosity of it. One day I will find me. For the moment I enjoy the evolution of practice. One lesson I learn is that an artist should be identifiable by all of his art. I hope that in this process, I can put them together one day and form my own art identity and voice. The good thing is we become aware of what works for us and what doesn’t. Later we stick to what works and that’s when we become an age old artist. I love the process more than the end.”
Tricia recently resided in Shanghai where she works as an English Teacher and paints. Due to Covid-19 she was stuck and is now home and creating art every day.
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Oil on Canvas