TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Gesiye (she/they) works with individuals and communities using performance, tattooing, installation, and image-making to explore embodiment and storytelling as forms of liberation. Raised in a Nigerian-Trinidadian family with a deep connection to divination and somatic healing practices, Gesiye uses an intuitive practice rooted in themes of belonging and examines the sociocultural symbols and power dynamics that impact our relationships with self, state, and land. To learn more about Gesiye’s work as a Black, queer artist engaging in environmental activism, see her website, follow her on Instagram, and read more of her thoughts below.
Art can be a tool for examining, decolonizing, and rewriting our narratives about our past, present, and future. It creates space for us to move forward with the awareness that change is possible and that the world is shaped by us, here and now.Gesiye
What role do you think art can play in social movements?
I believe that art can be a portal for us to vision and dream ourselves into. I create art towards a post-capitalist world that prioritizes sustainable care for our communities, rest, and love. Much of my work is informed by my spiritual relationship with the land and my desire to connect with, nurture, and inspire respect for the earth. Drawing inspiration from mythology, ritual, and oral history traditions, I use storytelling and tattooing as accessible mediums to work with themes of connection and belonging. For me, stories are the building blocks of power. Art can be a tool for examining, decolonizing, and rewriting our narratives about our past, present, and future. It creates space for us to move forward with the awareness that change is possible and that the world is shaped by us, here and now.
How would you describe your artistic practice as it relates to supporting social movements?
My lived experience as an artist in the Caribbean informs the ways that I choose to create. Inspired by the collaborative mass-camps of Carnival, I often engage people in my community to create my work, from artists and musicians to strangers and participants I connect with and share stories with, in a mutually beneficial exchange. This interweaving of people from different areas of life is an important aspect of my work. It creates connections between polarized communities, reminding us of the many similarities in our lived experiences and highlighting the power structures that keep us isolated from each other.
What does this award mean for you and your artistic practice?
I’m grateful and humbled by this award. The opportunity to create intuitively without the pressure of monetization is a beautiful gift for an artist. My work usually involves groups of people, collaborators, and support from my community. This award will allow me to continue to create work with them, knowing that my material needs are met and that I have the ability to redistribute some of this funding to those I work with. I hope to honor the land and my ancestors with the work that this award supports.