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Canopy Guild at NLS

Canopy Guild at NLS

Canopy Guild, the collaborative output of seven artists in different fields of the visual landscape opened at the New Local Space (NLS). The brain child of Trinidadian artist Rodell Warner, the 2014 summer artist-in-Residence at NLS, Canopy Guild is certainly ambitious in scope. Alas while its results have spawned a few gaze worthy pieces, others are likely to induce an epileptic seizure and it also includes what appears to be the death cries of the last banshee.

Canopy Guild includes nature images captured by Warner which are then interpreted in paintings, fashion design, video and sound. The exhibition happens in three spaces, the main tiny viewing gallery, its annex displaying video and the back lawn of the grounds. It includes work by Warner, Afifa Aza, Ai Yoshida, Ayana Rivière, Di-Andre C. Davis, Leasho Johnson and Storm Saulter.

Leasho Johnson's '630 in the bushes'The most striking piece in the exhibition is Leasho Johnson’s ‘630 in the bushes’, a name as ripe with meaning as the image itself. Johnson, who works in painting, ceramics, graphic and fashion design remains an interesting figure to watch as he interprets Jamaican popular culture, sex and sexuality through a lens tinged with a great sense of humour.

The largest piece of the exhibition, Warner’s installation ‘One of the forms my mother takes is me’, is engaging, while the designs by Ayana Rivière and Ai Yoshida are worthy of notice. Admittedly, the coloured prints on Rivière’s outfits detract from them, while Yoshida’s black and white choice makes her tent dress more distinctive.

The show gets problematic when the one gets to the video and sound installments which threaten with potentially unpleasant sensory overload. 

Ai Yoshida with her designI wasn’t able to fully experience Saulter’s video input, as the tiny room displaying his installation had house far too many bodies prior to my arrival, forcing me to exiting less than a minute after I entered.

The combined efforts of Davis and Aza are best enjoyed from a distance. However, as one patron pointed out, there is no escaping the sound. 

NLS’ continued exploration of experimental art is certainly a worthwhile initiative that has added to the local art landscape since its arrival. However, experiments do not always work, and some of the works that have fallen out under this canopy, should quickly be shoved back under.

The Canopy Guild exhibition opened on Friday, May 9, 2014 at NLS on Mountain View Avenue, Kingston.