RUBiS InPulse art project unveils interactive installation at Edna
Chad Bennett reclaimed old clothes to create a new piece based on techniques learned in the 10-day experimental workshop.

DELIGHTED students, faculty and guests tied knots to an expansive interactive art installation — The Fabric of Being — at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts on November 11, to close out the RUBiS InPulse workshops.

Staged by visiting artist Johanna Castillio, in partnership with RUBiS Energy Jamaica's charitable arm, RUBiS Mercent, and the Caribbean Art Initiative, the installation was the culmination of a 10-day experimental workshop making creative use of textiles, second-hand clothing, collage and even mask making. The colourful exhibition, which stretched over 100 sq ft across a shaded area just outside the visual arts department, also created an impressive backdrop for the brief ceremony.

Beaming with pride, the Dominican Republic native expressed joy in having encountered "a lot of interconnectivity and positive energy". She added, "We are actually connected by our mutual Caribbean routes."

Castillio explained: "The 10-day workshop was called 'Reclaiming your old clothes'. It has been a time travelling experience where I've been taking the students — and I feel like they have also been taking me — to the past to deconstruct it and to understand how our identities are formed in different timelines. We have explored not only understanding the singularity of clothing, in terms of textiles and where materials come from and where they end up, but understanding the conceptual level of it."

Edna Manley student Tasheka Wright combined various fabrics to represent her varied identities..

The workshop participants were challenged to answer three questions: who am I in this world, what do I want for this world and what do I wish to gain in this world? Marrying creativity with interpretation, the students designed, created and modelled meaningful clothing reflecting their identities.

On seeing the finished designs, RUBiS Energy Jamaica CEO Michelle Mallatino articulated how delighted he was to join Johanna on this journey and explore the expression of the students through patches, clothing and creativity. He also lauded RUBiS InPulse Project Manager Camille Chedda, noting that since 2015 she has been successfully nurturing young artists in the programme.

"I am encouraging you to continue and to grow in this artwork and become famous one day," he said.

Herself a visual artist, Chedda outlined that RUBiS InPulse Art Project exposed students to the visual arts, and fine art in particular, through a diverse and immersive set of workshops covering painting, film-making, mural design, animation and more.

"The workshops are conducted by practising and contemporary visual artists, including local and regional artists from Haiti, Barbados and the Dominican Republic and by international artists as well."

As the RUBiS InPulse programme coordinator, Chedda has guided several students from the first workshops at Dunoon High School to the COVID-relocated workshops at the RUBiS Water Lane Service Station to 'Edna', with approximately 22 students receiving full scholarships over the course of the programme.

With speeches aside, Mallatino, Chedda and Castillio, joined by RUBiS InPulse scholarship recipients Demar Brakenridge and Ryan "The Lion" McDonald, encouraged guests to complete the installation by connecting the "knots" to create a new series of identities.

Castillio closed by highlighting that upcycling has been about embracing who we are today and understanding that, no matter how our identities were formed in the past, we always have the agency to choose who we want to be today.

Images of the pieces and details of the new workshop series are available on Instagram at @RUBiSInPulse. The workshops continue with Paris-based artist Stéphane Thidet with the participation of Haitian artist Reginald Senatus (Redji).

Dominican Republic-born and-based Johanna Castillio led an experimental workshop at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston. The workshop explored the use of textiles as a way to acknowledge and deconstruct identities, raising awareness of the life cycle of our clothing and its impact on the environment, and to understand how clothing shapes our identities.
Ryan "The Lion" McDonald showed his identity with multiple pieces, including a full face mask.
RUBiS InPulse Art Project scholarship recipient Demar Brackenridge proudly displays his piece filled with meaning.
Sheldon Green, a RUBiS InPulse Art Project scholarship recipient, was happy to expand his skills in a new discipline.

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