A Love Letter to Dominica -Yasmin Nicholas Emerging Artist at the caribArt Exhibition LONDON 2018

Dear Dominica,

Nou ké kontiné lévé.

You are finding yourself again.

Broken roots reconnecting,

Regal earth, your seeds collecting.

The sisserou still perched.

Restitching your path home,

Hope is still searched.

Your flowers throw kisses in the morning,

The sun greets the land with it’s warmth.

Your leaves re-sown to it’s stem,

The green is growing back its gems.

The mango, banana and breadfruit trees,

They all sing back in symphony.

Now the children are back to steal what’s there,

The old lady is back in her rocking chair.

Dominica, Dominica, need I write you a prayer,

I thank God for your existence,

As the love that holds there.

Yasmin Nicholas, Copyright 2018

Born in 1994, Yasmin Nicholas grew up in North West London where she still lives today however that has not prevented her from identifying strongly with her Dominican ancestry. As a child she had always enjoyed poetry and seriously pursued studies in this area during her college years where she graduated with a bachelors degree in Fine Art from Middlesex University, Hendon in 2015.

Yasmin has mainly participated in group exhibitions and shows including Beaconsfield in Vauxhall, and at Truman Brewery, on the famous Brick Lane, London in 2015, where she presented two films, ‘Bwapen’ and ‘Metaphors’. Nicholas’ work consists of mixed media. It incorporates poetry, painting and sewing as she stealthily re-creates through her art accounts of daily life experiences, identity, race, diaspora related issues, Caribbean culture and other topics that pique her interest.

Yasmin has a keen appreciation for the spoken word but more so the influence of linguistics on the development of self-identity. She uses a play on language, including the fusion of the colonial English Language and the traditional Kwéyòl language which is spoken in Dominica and St. Lucia, to make her pieces more dramatic as she conveys strong cultural images. Yasmin is fascinated by Kwéyòl speakers ability to travel back and forth along the Creole continuum between the acrolect and basilectal varieties. She uses her art to expand the perimeter between what is considered ‘dominant’ and that which is considered ‘domestic’. She believes that her fusion of art, poetry and literature can positively change attitudes towards traditional Creole languages which are well structured languages that ought to be recognised and respected.

Artist Influences include Wadsworth Jarrell, Shirin Neshat, Glenn Ligon and Keith Piper. Yasim is always working on new material. When asked why her interest in joining the caribArt Regional platform this is what the young artist had to say,

"I got my inspiration from my grandparents. As a young child they would forever tell me stories of happenings back home in 'their' Dominica. Although I am of Dominican descent, I felt a direct and innate connection to the island because of these stories. This inner longing for the birth home of my ancestors has had the greatest influence on my artwork. As a young person I believe that I could help make a positive impact not only on the preservation of culture in the Dominican community here in the UK but also bring attention to the people and artists of my granny's tiny island in the sun.

In 2017 hurricane Maria destroyed my grandfather's village, Soufrière and by extension the entire island. I want to represent the islands devastation and resilience of its people especially as there was not a lot of coverage of this disaster by the British media. To be honest, there isn't enough coverage in the media regarding Dominica overall. This platform has given me a much needed voice to speak for others who are unable to speak for themselves because of the limited access to resources that are necessary for basic day to day living. I was even more thrilled to learn that the project will also host a Dominica Relief Fund raffle on the night of the main reception.

When I heard about the caribArt project it was the best news I could have got! Sometimes not being a first generation descendant from the country of your immediate family can be puzzling, especially when you are asked to describe your nationality. The caribArt project has formed a bond between where I am now and where my family is from and I think it will continue to create major bonds especially between the children of Caribbean descent in England and the people who still live in the Caribbean region. This will give the children of the diaspora a better understanding of their homeland, and traditions of their bloodline. We aren't taught enough about authentic Caribbean heritage and it's not because we don't want to learn. This project connects the diaspora in a way that I love - through ART! My wish is that it continues to grow and I am sure it will if everyone pitches in to help it grow. I'm so excited about June!"

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