Janelle De Souza
Keiba Jacob Mottley, the new President of the Art Society of TT, is thrilled with her new position and ready to take the organization to the next level.
She recalls being asked to run for president in January 2021, but her first response was no, as she felt she had no time to take on another responsibility.
She is one of two procedural clerks and head of Parliament’s financial control unit, as well as the curator of the Rotunda Gallery at the Red House.
But she thought about it, ended up accepting and was elected at the end of March for a three-year term.
Jacob Mottley told Sunday Newsday that she wanted the Art Society to be a place where members of the visual arts community could feel comfortable and respected. She would like to make it a space to promote members and their work, as well as gallery exhibitions, and bring together all members of the community.
She wants it to be a space where people can find out what’s happening in the art world and learn about emerging and established artists.
“I see the Art Society as the promoter of visual art in TT – the art, not the artists. So both the buyers and the business corporation could be members.
“If we could all come together to promote visual art – painting, sculpture, photography, videography, digital art, etc. – to help develop and deepen the appreciation of visual art in TT, it would also compel practitioners to deepen their practice.
However, she does not intend to do it alone.
The brand new board has already started generating ideas and Jacob Mottley is eager to give everyone the opportunity to be heard and see their visions come to fruition.
The board includes Vice President Kevin Kenny, an art collector; secretary Chantal Quamina; Treasurer Junnel Lewis, who previously held the position for a year; and directors Christine Norton, Jason Nathu, Tracey Alonzo, Jeannine Crouch and Anika Plowden-Corentin.
She thinks they have an interesting journey ahead of them as they are all excited and ready to work hard.
She said the Art Society is made up of people who she thinks reflect the makeup of the people of TT. Although, at the moment, the members are mainly artists and some art collectors, they are people of different ages, races, genders and professions. But there are plans to launch a membership campaign in September.
“All of these people feel they have a space and an opportunity at the Art Society. And we, as artists, have our share of fears and insecurities, which is why we want to encourage people to come and see the work. If you don’t like it, tell us. If you like it, tell us. If you like it, buy it. But it’s not about sales. We want people to come out and support the TT visual arts community.
Jacob Mottley’s artistic journey began in 2016 when she visited an art gallery because she wanted to buy art for her home.
“I didn’t know where to start buying, I didn’t know how to buy art, or what to do. I went to Horizons and saw pieces by Glenn Roopchand. His work is truly amazing, but I couldn’t afford the pieces I loved.
“A friend was there with me and told me he could paint the things I liked. And I thought if he could paint that, I could paint that too.
The very next day, October 31, 2016, she went to an art supply store, bought some paint, and started painting for the first time.
“I’ve always loved art, but it was like one of those things that you fantasize about, that I wish I could do. I always felt intimidated by it because I felt like I couldn’t do it. the things I saw others doing.
But she did, and her abstract art moved from canvas to fabric, illuminating clothing and furniture.
“For me, in my personal practice, art is liberation. At work, I have all this structure, so when I paint or create something, I want to be free to do what I want to do.
“As a result, my art is very abstract. I don’t have structures and shapes and things like that in my art. It’s very emotional, very intuitive, very expressive. I relax and everything that comes out is okay.
Fast forward five years and she had her first solo exhibition at Arnim’s Art Galleria, Port of Spain in September 2021.
Jacob Mottley said that when she started painting, she dove deep into the art world. She spoke to artists and gallery owners about their work and backgrounds, and tried to understand what motivates people to buy art.
This “dive” came in handy when Parliament returned to the Red House in 2020. As she prepared to move from Tower D of the International Waterfront Center to the Red House, she had the idea that the entrance could be used as an art gallery.
“When we returned to the Red House, the intention was to retain the ambience of yesteryear, where you could walk from Sackville Street straight through the Red House to Woodford Square. Of course, there are now security checks, but you can still pass.
She felt it was a good idea to put some art on display to draw people into the space and, since it was already there, maybe teach people who wouldn’t normally be interested in politics. something about Parliament.
She believes the idea and her position as curator of the Rotunda Gallery earned her the recognition of being identified as a potential candidate for President of the Art Society.
As with the Rotunda Gallery, Jacob Mottley wants to focus on creating opportunities for artists to showcase their work, and to develop and deepen people’s appreciation for art. She wants to help grow Art Society membership and educate people so they aren’t intimidated by the art scene.
Already, the Art Society hosts ongoing exhibits at its Federation Park headquarters, as well as live drawing events, artist talks, and workshops, all of which are open to the public.
“We have too many artists and too many works of art in the country to have white walls, even in people’s homes. So we have more than enough artwork that we can always have an exhibition.
“And sometimes people don’t appreciate certain types of works as works of art. So these artist talks are not just for artists, but also for buyers to understand and appreciate the art.
Jacob Mottley said there is a misconception that only a certain type of people buy and appreciate art. But, she emphasized that art is for everyone.
To those considering buying art for the first time, she suggested ignoring the opinions of others. She thinks they should buy what they absolutely love, what they could live with in their home, and what they could afford.
After that, she said they should shop around and visit various galleries, but keep their budget and space size in mind. She added that buyers should feel free to ask the gallery or artist if they can pay in installments.
She also suggests that they have a plan, possibly focusing on an up-and-coming theme or artist. Why? Because their labor may be cheaper, and labor may become more valuable over time.
“As an artist, when you stop producing work, everyone who has collected your work is at a disadvantage because you’re not growing as an artist. That’s what really adds value to an artist’s work – when you can see where they started and how they developed and where they went. Then the previous work of the artist takes on value.
“Furthermore, art is something unique. Sometimes when an artist paints something in a series, he creates that series and then that’s it. The artist can continue his creative journey and never look back on this period, or his style can evolve so much that he can no longer reproduce what he has done before.
So his main advice is: if you like it and have the money, buy it!