INSPIRED by the uncanny, the unorthodox, social dynamics, the cultural architecture of our society, the texture and tones of our indigenous identity, whether through music, fashion or poetry, artist and art educator Ancel Daniel pursues themes on cultural identity.
Her interest rests in the idea of branding and how cultural pollination has changed the face of the region. She is influenced by her Guyanese cultural heritage. However, it has been slightly altered through her interaction with the European and American contemporary art world. “The question was, how do I bridge the gap between my world and theirs, in terms of art language and cultural representation. Hence, my old way of making art evolved, yet I remained true to my indigenous aesthetics,” she stated.
Ancel Daniel nee Boston is an Associate Degree tutor at the Barbados Community College, Barbados. She has a background in Ceramics and Painting. Her initial career path is quite peculiar for an artist. Ancel trained as a nurse at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and worked in that capacity for 11 years. In 2007 she resigned from nursing and taught for one year at the Achievers’ Academ, Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara. It was there that her love for educating others blossomed. In that same year, she began formal art training at the E.R. Burrowes School of Art. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that she completed her diploma. In 2015, Ancel gained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from The Barbados Community College. She later earned her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from University of Arts, London, Chelsea College of Arts in 2018. Ancel shared that “The artist’s role is to weave an idea into the fabric of society; to pose questions that would stimulate thought and initiate dialogue. The artist can impact society negatively or positively, depending on his or her creative ideas and objectives, especially when the concept is on issues such as religion, politics, social norms, culture and gender.”
Ancel works within her academic space to create her conceptual ideas. She believes that students should see their tutor at work because it provides a source of motivation. As a former art educator, I can attest to this fact. Not only does working alongside students motivate them, but it also helps them to develop the attitude of research, which in turn helps them to build a solid body of work. Ancel stated that “I believe the artist is the voice of reckoning, the light on the issue, therefore reading before attempting to create is vital.”
There is an upcoming art exhibition of teachers and students later this year. As they prepare, I want to encourage them to remain dedicated to the art process. The works that will be presented should tackle subjects in the global conversation. Teacher, treat your students like the professional artists you are training them to become. Encourage them to explore the art process, instead of focusing exclusively on a single subject. Encourage them to seek information through books and interviews. Most importantly, lead by example. Some may argue that our environment may not be as inviting as Ancel’s, assuming that hers is /was inviting! There is no doubt that our local art program has much room for development. However, education and innovation are the keys to success. As art educators, remember that you are first of all an artist and that artists create.
Ancel shares her dissatisfaction within the art world. She is aware of cliques, where vital information as to how to get to someplace in one’s development is kept a closely guarded secret and shared only within familiar space. There is also the lack of government financial support for visual art education, so that we artists can keep abreast with the moving art world outside of our demographics. While she is very appreciative of her foundation training in Guyana, she noted that she was not fully prepared for her studies abroad. Some studio equipment was new to her because it was not available here. According to Ancel, She got a rude awakening. “The question posed to me was how do I create futuristic art, then again, what is futuristic art? This sent me to the libraries, galleries and museums, to gather information. I kept a journal and this helped me to develop and speak the European art language, yet I stayed true to my identity as a South America Guyanese/ Caribbean artist.”
As you examine Ancel’s work, you notice the evolution of style and technique. However, she has managed to maintain her Caribbean identity. In closing, she said “I have seen images of exhibitions via social media from Castellani House, Art Gallery, it was superb. The works are Indigenous to the space, with a strong representation of roots and culture, and this is what the art world outside of the Region is curious about. However, the question always is, how do we make our conversation global?”