Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019. 7:29 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The fourteenth Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) launches next week in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is one of the pillars of regional cooperation and integration, bringing artisans and cultural practitioners together to promote local arts and culture, bringing rich, exciting, and provocative expressions of talent and skill to the world.
With the region’s rich talent pool, CARIFESTA 2019 is expected to be another fun and joy-filled experience, and Belize will be part of the diverse cultural display in visual and literary arts, storytelling, fashion, theater, dance, music, film and new media.
Headlining Belize’s delegation are Bredda David Obi and the Tribal Vibes Band. Bandleader Obi said at Wednesday’s launch event at the Bliss Center, “It’s always a great honor when you are asked to represent your country and in this case it is no different. So my band and myself, like we always do, will do our best to make our country proud. We want to thank NICH and all the sponsors, whoever’s helping to make this possible and believe me, we’ll do our best, like we always do. Thanks very much.”
Director of the Institute of Creative Arts Gregory Vernon said there is a push to rank the Belize Kriol language and culture alongside its Garifuna brethren as intangible to world affairs under UNESCO.
Also part of that push is author and spoken word artist Ivory Kelly, who recently released a book of short stories titled “Pengereng.” She explained, “Belize is one of the countries that are less well-known in the literary sphere in the Caribbean and myself and my counterparts in the Belize Book Industry Association and the Belize Writers Guild, of which I am a member, we intend to change that and in representing Belize I intend to introduce them to the book of short stories that I released last week which includes the first major work of fiction written in standard Belize Creole.”
On the fashion runway are Julia McCord, Julie Mango Designs, and Rebecca Stirm.
In the visual arts, Keon Griffith, Crystal Lopez, Gayla Fuller, Roxanna Bradley, Ludwig Palacio, Briheda Haylock, Edgar Gomez and Rachel Heusner fly the Belize flag; Heusner is based in Trinidad. The Museum of Belize’s Ilona Smiling discusses their differing styles: Briheda Haylock uses her artwork to make statements on gender-based violence and violence against women. We have Roxanna Bradley who is a new artist and while her paintings may depict flowers, what you’re seeing with her work is more of how her mind works. The paintings that she paints are mostly detailed close-ups of specific parts of flowers, leaves or other mundane items that you would otherwise ignore, but the technique she uses to achieve her images makes it seems as though the image itself is moving. We have Ludwig Palacio who is an artist from PG who does abstract art, all of his abstract art aren’t works that you could copy or be replicated. When you look at it, you know that it’s a Ludwig Palacio piece. So all of these paintings were chosen based on each artist’s expression, creativity and technique.”
In all, says NICH President Sapna Budhrani, This year’s theme focuses on both tangible and intangible aspects of cultural and heritage development and seeks to embody and facilitate the objectives of CARIFESTA. With that being said, our team comprises of members from the Creole community, members from the visual artists community and also from, I believe the Garifuna is also going to be represented on the opening night and the Mayas will be represented through the visual on the opening night.”
Richard Kiau plays with the Caribbean Youth Orchestra, and head of delegation Alex Evans, noted steelpan percussionist, is based in Trinidad as well.
The festival runs from August 16-26, with Belize Night in the middle on August 21. Performances can be seen on the CARIFESTA website.
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