Rockstone and Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art

Rockstone and Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art

Real Art Ways

November 8, 2009

Rockstone and Bootheel
Contemporary West Indian Art

November 14–March 14, 2010

Opening Reception: Saturday, November 14, 3-6 PM

With Christopher Cozier’s temporary sound installation, Sound System, and a performance by Zachary Fabri.

56 Arbor Street
Hartford, CT 06106
T 860.232.1006

Real Art Ways presents some of the most challenging, recent work by artists from the Anglophone Caribbean and the diaspora in Rockstone and Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art, curated by Kristina Newman-Scott and Yona Backer. The exhibition evokes the feeling of a high-energy “mash up.” The works are juxtaposed in conversation with each other to reveal complex, fragmented stories about contemporary Anglophone Caribbean culture, challenging common assumptions about West Indian artistic expression.

The name comes from a Jamaican dub-metal song, “Rockstone and Bootheel,” by Gibby. It’s a colloquial phrase that means “taking a journey.” Rockstone and Bootheel is, in fact, an exhibition composed of many journeys, sometimes conflicting, all influenced by the social, political, and economic conditions of life in the West Indies and the diaspora. “West Indies” refers to a group of islands in the Caribbean formerly under British control.

The exhibition focuses on artists from the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago, all former British colonies, each with a distinct artistic presence. Rockstone and Bootheel offers a snapshot of recent works that draw from the region’s popular culture and history. Rather than make the case for a particular West Indian aesthetic, the exhibition offers a lively glimpse into contemporary Anglophone Caribbean visual practice – an energetic “mash up” of art that lies at the intersection of popular and urban culture. Many of the works in Rockstone and Bootheel incorporate sound and performative elements, drawing from Carnival, Jamaican Dancehall, and other dominant subcultures.

The works also tell stories of the region’s complicated history, a history filled with conflict, transformation, and cross-cultural exchange. Through their work, the artists address issues including gender, race, sexuality and homophobia, and the rampant crime and violence plaguing many of the islands’ inner cities.

The exhibition features large-scale installations, new media and multi-disciplinary works, digital projections, music videos and large- format photographs. Also featured are assemblage sculptures, paintings, live performances, and an offsite public art project by Karyn Olivier.

The 39 participating artists are Akuzuru, Ewan Atkinson, Lawrence Graham-Brown, Renee Cox, Christopher Cozier, Blue Curry, Sonya Clark, Makandal Dada, Annalee Davis, Khalil Deane, Zachary Fabri, Joscelyn Gardner, Marlon Griffith, Satch Hoyt, Christopher Irons, Leasho Johnson, Ras Kassa, Jayson Keeling, O’Neil Lawrence, Christina Leslie, Simone Leigh, Jaime Lee Loy, Dave McKenzie, Wendell McShine, Petrona Morrison, Karyn Olivier, Zak Ové, Ebony G. Patterson, Omari Ra, Peter Dean Rickards, Nadine Robinson, Sheena Rose, Oneika Russell, Heino Schmid,Phillip Thomas, Adele Todd, Nari Ward, Jay Will and Dave Williams.

Richard Rawlins, artistic director for CMB creative and founder of Draconian Switch, will create an interactive website and catalog for the exhibition’s international audience.

A schedule of film screenings, readings, performances, live music, artist talks, lectures, and community-based activities to accompany this exhibition is forthcoming.

Rockstone and Bootheel is made possible by generous support from: The National Endowment for the Arts, The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, Real Art Ways members, The J. Walton Bissell Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign, Travelers, The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Sandy and Howard Fromson, Robinson and Nancy Grover, The Wallace Foundation , Lincoln Financial Group , and Gary E. West.

About Real Art Ways
Real Art Ways is one of the leading contemporary arts organizations in the United States, with a record of linking artists, innovation and community. Programs include visual art exhibitions, public art projects, and artist presentations; cinema, with independent and international films 7 nights a week; music; performance; literary events; community and educational programming.

Press contact: Abigail Ohlheiser (

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Real Art Ways
November 8, 2009

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