Rachel Uffner Gallery is presenting new sculptures and drawings from Curtis Talwst Santiago in “Drawings and Miniatures” through January 8. Santiago uses jewelry boxes to create scenes of life within them that explore issues of trans-culturalism, memory, and ancestry in the contemporary diasporic experience.
Santiago’s own experience of growing up in a Trinidadian household against the backdrop of Canada holds weight within the context of his work. His interest in storytelling, narratives from African and Caribbean culture in particular, comes alive in his practice, which aims to animate and reinsert these silenced histories into contemporary art and history.
Encased in structures that protect and transport precious objects through generations, the ring boxes become symbolic of oral historical practices. They draw on the tradition of storytelling to question the production of historical understanding. The chosen form of the ring box to enclose politically charged messages reinforces and reasserts these forgotten narratives. Their overt objecthood suggest the distance between dominant culture and the stories they hold.
Using paper and rocks as his surface, these works consider more directly the connection between the artist and his ancestors. The drawings were made as a current artist-in-residence at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn and from his studies at the New York Studio School. The series depicts contemporary figures that aesthetically conjure the past, echoing the gestures and processes of art history’s masters before him.
Curtis Talwst Santiago is a former apprentice of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, and has exhibited internationally in solo and group shows including at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Hunter College, Savannah College of Art and Design, Fortnight Institute and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. A current artist-in-residence at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, Talwst will participate in a residency with Gallery MOMO (Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2017. He will also be included in an upcoming show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem.