Artist Type: Painter
Education: Edna Manley College. MFA from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Exhibitions: Work shown latest in New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists, National Gallery of Jamaica.
Camille Chedda was born in Manchester, Jamaica in 1985. She graduated from the Edna Manley College with an honors diploma in Painting, and received her MFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her works have been featured in major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, where she was participated in The National Biennial (06, 08, 12) and Materializing Slavery in 2007. She has also exhibited internationally in Boston, New York, Germany and China. Chedda was a Part-Time Lecturer in Drawing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Albert Huie Award, the Reed Foundation Scholarship and a Graduate Thesis of Distinction from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Statement: Scandal bags, paintings of identity
This body of work began with my daily use and collection of plastic bags, which are known as ‘scandal bags’ in Jamaica, my country of origin. Typically, scandal bags are black, opaque, and able to conceal their contents from public view. Although they are predominantly used for carrying groceries, scandal bags have been used to hold weapons, drugs, stolen goods and even body parts. The bags have been taken out of an everyday utilitarian context and have become a dangerous entity associated with crime, violence and poverty.
Through these paintings, I am investigating identity through the use of a variety of bags ranging from translucent storage bags to opaque black garbage bags. Each type of bag reveals a different story: the storage bags display representationally painted portraits while the garbage bags bare emaciated and distorted heads and bodies. The portraits, although always referencing myself, are variable; no two portraits are the same. Their expression changes with each painting.
The portrait takes on a synonymous relationship to an object, be it organic or man made, food or drugs, guns or groceries, all of which have a shelf life. This objectification is a direct reference to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in which Africans were objectified, placed on ships, sold, used, replaced and disposed of when their services we no longer required.
In a sense the plastic bag can be likened to a space of transformation synonymous to the ships of the Middle Passage, where assimilation, disease and death began. From the shelves of the supermarket to the plastic bag, the purchaser now owns the object and controls it. The object has a new life through its trade or collection. One might see it as the death of the object because now, having been purchased, it is soon to be consumed and will perish.
Inherent in these paintings is the idea of disposability. I paint with acrylics from direct observation, capturing a moment in time on a surface that will outlive its content. The acrylics eventually crumble due to the paints’ inability to adhere to the surface of the plastic. This eventually leaves the bags with remnants of a thing that one existed, as shards of the painting fall to the base of the bags. These paintings are a record of time, reminders of temporality, documents of expiration.