Trinidad Guardian: Jaime Lee Loy Making people think through ART

By Holly Bynoe Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 Categories: Culture, Updates

Roslyn Carrington from the Trinidad Guardian writes a moving profile on Trinidadian contemporary artist and practitioner, Jaime Lee Loy, who delves into her practice and speaks about the development of Trinidad Home Studio, which aims to provide creative services, such as writing, video and photography for projects affiliated with the arts, education, culture, humanitarian work, not for profit organisations and families.

“My work is like home to me. It comes from a very real and genuine space, created from real questions. I am only negative when I don’t live up to my own standards.” Many of the creations of contemporary artist and writer Jaime Lee Loy may shock, but her aim is to explore rather than to sensationalise some of the darker outposts of the human psyche. She doesn’t mind crossing lines that others might be afraid to. “My artwork centres around difficult topics like social concerns like domestic violence. I spare nothing. It will at times be highly disturbing, but the topics are disturbing. You can find an aesthetically pleasing way to bring your viewers into a world that is uneasy or difficult, a way that brings your message across. It’s probably easier to digest than the front pages of the newspapers. I don’t think in terms of ‘crossing lines’. I only really ever ask myself, Is this the right medium? The right process and space for the work?  The right method and execution?”

'The Roach' from 'War in the Home'. sculpture detail of real flowers and pins by Jaime Lee Loy

Like many artists, Lee Loy found in her creativity a way to exorcise and make peace with her own dark moments by transforming them into something that could be appreciated by others.  “Negative experiences that could have broken me have been reworked in my art and writing for positive outcomes.  My art is a form of therapy and enlightenment and sharing of experience.” Many of Lee Loy’s photos, videos and written works have female experiences as their central theme, but not through any deliberate agenda.

'The Roach' from 'War in the Home'

“I would hope my work can be understood easily by anyone—male or female—as I aim to share human experience and thoughts. It’s like appreciating a movie or book about a place you’ve never been to or an experience that is different from your own. Hopefully, the writing allows you to enter that world.” Yet, her art is far from being anti-man. “Even if in some of my work I explore female angst, one does not create the other.” In spite of the troubling subjects she often tackles, she still believes in love, marriage and family, which is why she enjoys the wedding photography service she provides. “I’m that person whose eyes get moist when a couple who really love each other share a touching moment.”

She has exhibited locally, in London, USA, and Scotland, and has travelled on fellowships for workshops, exhibitions and residencies to places like Vermont, Connecticut, Scotland, and London.

Lee Loy is part owner and founder of Trinidad Home Studio. Her mission is to provide creative services, such as writing, video and photography for projects affiliated with the arts, education, culture, humanitarian work, not for profit organisations, and family. “Two close friends of mine launched the band K2K last year and I was excited to provide some work for their band. It was a new and refreshing take, with Fashion meeting  Mas.” One of Home Studio’s clients is The Family Planning Association, where she once worked. Depending on the sensitivity of the project, the work she does there may remain invisible to the public, as the organisation sometimes deals with abuse, with minors and sexuality. For her, such assignments are a means of changing how people think.

Face Detail from K2K 2012 Carnival Presentation 'The Waters'

“This way, people can achieve greater empathy and understanding of certain situations. I always want them to leave questioning and thinking.   It’s not decorative art, it’s purpose-driven. In a society like ours with so much division of class and religion and wealth, and increasing violence against women and children, we need to start addressing these situations through art, writing and philosophy and develop real long-term plans for progressive action.  Not overnight rallying or the extreme opposite (the total denial of what’s really going on).”

and K2K's 'The River Jordan' from the 2012 presentation

She’s also a published author, and her written words are as unsentimental as her art. “My articles, for example like the ones I write for the online magazine, Outlish, are on hard topics like religion, why people stay in compromising relationships, socio-political topics – the ‘make you think’ type of writing.” She has published one piece in the anthology Trinidad Noir. In spite of the narrow path she walks along the edge of darkness, her life and art are brimming with positive experiences. “I’ve been lucky to have family and friends who’ve stuck with me, who know Jaime the regular person who can kick back and have a good laugh or a good cry, the professional me, the artist me and the mommy me.  They have affected me the most… in a good way.”

Holly Bynoe
Holly Bynoe

Holly Bynoe is a curator, visual artist and writer based in the Caribbean. She is the Executive Director of ARC Magazine, and a graduate of Bard College International Center of Photography (2010) where she earned her M.F.A. in Advanced Photographic Studies. She currently holds the position of Chief Curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, and is co-director of the annual arts conference Tilting Axis and Caribbean Linked Residency Program.