The most beautiful aspect of art is that it does not belong to one race, ethnicity, or national group. The arts exist as a form of personal and cultural expression and can be harnessed by anyone to share their inner-self with the world around them. Art is used to express angst, share societal views, or simply spread understanding across cultural and racial divides.
Many artists, such as Creole painter Kathy Ann Chevalier-Joseph, use their art form to share with the world their vision of the environment, locale, or culture they live in. Not only do artists like Ms. Chevalier-Joseph share their perception of the world, they also strive to create the world around them as they see it through their eyes. It is through her eyes that many are introduced, for the first time, to the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
An Artistic Upbringing
Kathy Ann was born and raised in the town of Chaguanas in central Trinidad and Tobago. Her parents, both artists themselves, raised all four of their children to be disciplined and well-rounded without stifling any of their creative instincts or nature. Kathy and her siblings were encouraged to express themselves through various art forms including poetry, art, song, and performance.
As a young child, each of her siblings exhibited creativity in one field or another. Kathy’s greatest expressions often came in simple forms crafted from the world around her. It was not uncommon for Kathy to dig up the fresh clay in the family’s backyard and create model people with her own hands.
For Kathy it eventually became clear that her preferred form of expression would be art, more specifically painting. She admits to using her art in those early years as a means for unwinding from the stresses of everyday life. With paint and brush in hand, she channeled that emotion into her artistic abilities and unleashed her interpretations of the world onto the canvas in front of her.
Throughout her schooling in Trinidad and Tobago, Kathy pursued her passion for art alongside her other formal studies. While she attended secondary school, Kathy’s artistic abilities were enlightened and enhanced under the tutelage of Ian Ali, a renowned artist, educator, and television personality in her homeland.
At no point in time was Kathy’s artistic growth ever stymied by her other academic pursuits. Amazingly, she studied Graphic Arts for a time during tertiary school and worked full time as an executive assistant with Industrial Plant Services Limited, but that never slowed her growth as a painter.
As a child, Kathy’s parents and siblings helped to nurture her innate artistic abilities and encourage her to explore her passion whenever possible. But it would eventually be the world around her that inspired her to express her visions on canvas. The vibrant colours and dynamic sceneries in her Creole world provided her with the inspiration she needed to create one work of art after another. She has also admitted to drawing inspiration from the works of Leroy Clarke. Mr. Clarke is one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most renowned artists, and is not only a self-taught artist but also a writer whose works have been held in high regard for more than 47 years now.
In order to realise her ambition and vision as an artist, Kathy has used both the formal techniques she was taught in her youth and the inspiration she finds in the Creole community around her to develop a style and technique that defines her work as unique from others.
Although Kathy has been perfecting her craft since her youth, she had never had a formal exhibition of her painted works until late 2011. Her first formal exhibition, “In Full Colour,” was held in the Media Room of the National Library and featured a number of works of art she had created between 2006 and 2011. That first exhibition was inspired by the different characteristics that create the Creole culture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Those first works depicted the people, animals, beaches, and natural beauty of her home country. The pieces were created in a variety of media including acrylic, water colour, and coloured pencil. Her exhibition was divided into different categories which included scenes, portraits, and still life. Each category captured, through her eyes, the beauty of the culture, people, and landscape of her homeland in vibrant colours.
Her works so impressed the visitors that more than half of them were sold during the exhibition; a true testament to how accurately she captured and expressed her world. Though no date or venue has been set, Kathy is rumored to be studying the native dance and movement of her culture in hopes of bringing her unique artistic view to bear on another aspect of the islands’ Creole culture.
Beyond sharing her passion and expressing her view of the world with others, Kathy hopes that her works of art can serve as an inspiration to others. She firmly believes that nature and God’s creation signifies life and peace in our world. She also believes that vibrant colours are not only the way we see the world, but also express the vibrancy of the world around us.
Art has always served as a form of expression and release for Kathy, and as her passion she nurtures it in the hopes of feeling true joy and fulfillment in her life. She would encourage others to do the same because, like her paintings, she believes life should be expressive, free, and bright.