In 1986, artists Edward Bowen and Steve Ouditt, both of whom had studied abroad and returned to Trinidad, founded an experimental independent study programme called the Visual Arts Environment. The main objective of the VAE was to facilitate a series of critical art workshops for young practising Trinidadian artists interested in developing their talents in the areas of contemporary art-making and thinking. It incorporated workshops in design, painting, drawing, and art theory, as well as talks and discussions by artists like Francisco Cabral, Anna Serrao, Christopher Cozier, Irenee Shaw, and Shastri Maharaj.
Based at Bowen's studio in St. Ann's, the VAE was eventually recognised by the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department. VAE "graduates" included many of the younger generation of contemporary artists now working in Trinidad, such as Dean Arlen, Suzy Deyal, Che Lovelace, Mario Lewis, and the late Illya Furlonge-Walker.
Twenty years after the launch of this pioneering artist-led initiative, Galvanize will bring its founders, Edward Bowen and Steve Ouditt, together with art historian Courtey Martin and VAE "graduate" Mario Lewis to discuss the VAE's career, its impact on Trinidad's contemporary art scene, and its possible legacies and lessons for artists practising in this country today.
Eddie Bowen: "The collaboration sought to pitch the students squarely in a continuous dialogue and continuous meeting with art and design professionals, as well as a neverending pratical in studio...."
Artists and other members of the public are invited to join the discussion.
The "conversation" on The Visual Arts Environment: Twenty Years After will be held on Thursday 21 September, 2006, at 6.30 pm, in the InterAmericas Space at CCA7
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