Greetings Glocal Citizens!
In the next conversation it's a "Throwback Tuesday" as I reconnect with another old friend who is taking us on a journey between her home country of St. Croix to Denmark and back again. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, raised in and now based in the Virgin Islands, La Vaughn Belle makes visible the unremembered. Borrowing from elements of architecture, history and archeology Belle creates narratives that challenge colonial hierarchies and invisibility. La Vaughn explores the material culture of coloniality and her work presents countervisualities and narratives. Working in a variety of disciplines her practice includes: painting, installation, photography, writing, video and public interventions. Her work with colonial era pottery led to a commission with the renowned brand of porcelain products, the Royal Copenhagen. She has exhibited her work in the Caribbean, the USA and Europe in institutions such as the Museo del Barrio (NY), Casa de las Americas (Cuba), the Museum of the African Diaspora (CA) and Christiansborg Palace (DK). Her art is in the collections of the National Photography Museum and the Vestsjælland Museum in Denmark.
She is the co-creator of “I Am Queen Mary”, the artist-led groundbreaking monument that confronted the Danish colonial amnesia while commemorating the legacies of resistance of the African people who were brought to the former Danish West Indies. The project was featured in over 100 media outlets around the world including the NY Times, Politiken, VICE, the BBC and Le Monde. Belle holds an MFA from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and an MA and BA from Columbia University in NY. She was a finalist for the She Built NYC project to develop a monument to memorialize the legacy of Shirley Chisholm and for the Inequality in Bronze project in Philadelphia to redesign one of the first monuments to an enslaved woman at the Stenton historic house museum. As a 2018-2020 fellow at the Social Justice Institute at the Barnard Research Center for Women at Columbia University she worked on a project about the ‘citizenless’ Virgin Islanders in the Harlem Renaissance.
This two-part conversation bookends the US Indepencence Day holiday, and at a time when so much about identity and nationalism is begging for long overdue examination, these episodes are healthy food for thought. In true #TBT fashion you'll want to come back to these discussion for the learning and insights into the continued work of deconstructing colonialism.
What's La Vaughn reading?
Just As I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson
A Radical Awakening: Turn Pain into Power, Embrace Your Truth, Live Free by Dr. Shefali Tsabary