Civilization is not Civil Civilization is not Civil Civilization is not Civil

Tessa Alexander

Trinidad and Tobago

Breaking The Vision, draws from Trinidadaian/Canadian poet and writer Dionne Brand, who stated that we  “must return to come forward, must break the vision of us that we did not make…must reclaim history.” The Caribbean region was created through the oppressive “civilizing'” colonial expansionist project, a project we see that continues even today. People brought to the Caribbean as laborers were denied their humanity, denied their culture and were made to forget the civilizations from which they came. This is a state with which Caribbean people continue to wrestle, becoming civilized has meant to many to forget that their foreparents had a civilaization all of their own and that their arts and culture flourished. As we continue to deal with stereotypes of what the Caribbean is many leave to find validation elsewhere.

These mixed media pieces combine archive images, maps and watercolour infused with motifs that speak of the civilizing project of the Caribbean including cotton and cocoa flowers. The pieces are layered inviting viewers to see stories which reclaim history yet question the hegemonic structures of “civilization”

Tessa is a full-time artist based in Trinidad  who is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies; her project is a troubling of the Caribbean archive and art canon as she investigates the silenced art histories of her foremothers.

Tessa is primarily a watercolour artist as the vibrant colour, fluidity and textures produced from the medium, capture the Caribbean essence and it is suitable to tropical conditions as it is quick drying and environmentally friendly, she however often combines handmade papers and cultural embellishments to reflect her own mixed heritage Trinidadian aesthetic.