Street art: Above and bottom right, graffiti paintings from Garcia’s previous exhibitions. *Photo supplied
Street art: Above and bottom right, graffiti paintings from Garcia’s previous exhibitions. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, AUGUST 12: Graffiti is not an art form that is often seen in the galleries or even the streets of Bermuda.

Perceptions of it can range from a genre that reflects the soul of a city to a mere eyesore.

Masterwork’s new artist in residence Kathleen Howie-Garcia is on the island to show how it can bond members of a community and engage our youth.

The Canadian painter will be working on a series of projects during her stay in Bermuda including a “call and response” mural that she will begin and young artists will be inspired by and complete.

Using spray paints and house paint, she has already begun the project which depicts one of her common subject matters — the natural world. So it is fitting that her floral wall piece is situated at the Botanical Gardens.

Positive energy

“Graffiti for me is one way to direct your energy in a positive way. It has a negative connotation but that is kind of ironic — it is an art that the youth identify with.The community mural will bring together people from all walks of life so we can have a better understanding of each other and ourselves.

“I have collaborated on an idea with the artists and then will work on the design and we will execute the design together. I want to see how they take to the idea of painting a mural, seeing me paint it and then interpreting it themselves. I have done one section of the wall and I will ask them what they want to add — they may pick a flower or a weed or an insect or they might come up with something totally different.”

Garcia works mainly out of the Bronx and has had her work exhibited in the Bronx Museum of the Arts. She has also exhibited at El Museo Del Barrio and the Museum of Modern Art.

In 2003 she became the first Canadian female artist to paint at the legendary Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem, New York.

Some of Bermuda’s characters will also appear in Garcia’s work as she plans on exploring all aspects of Bermuda’s cultural landscape.

One subject she is interested in covering in Bermuda is dancehall reggae and she hopes to paint a portrait of reggae singer Tiny T, possibly a member of the hip-hop dance troupe The Bermuda Squad and also Chewstick founder Gavin Smith.

“I am here to create work about Bermuda. At first the beauty was so overwhelming and I was like ‘I want to paint the water, I want to paint the flowers,’ then I started looking at what is out there. Traditional Bermudian art is great but I am not a great watercolour painter and so I had to find something that has an urban aesthetic to it. I need to figure out how I can incorporate my art with that and marry the two.

“I’m also doing a series of paintings called the Dub Series. It’s from the dub genre of reggae and it comes from the idea that you take a song or image and dub it. There is a big reggae scene here and that’s definitely one influence and I can play around with.”

Garcia will be travelling around the island with a portable canvas which she hopes will inspire a dialogue with people in Bermuda. She will ask people to write what they like about the island and what they would like to change about it. She will be available at City Hall from 11am this Saturday.