A Chat With Provacative Trinidadian Artist-MILES REGIS
By Jason Walker
Art Miami Africa is a wonderful manifestation that has provided a space for art and artists that originate from Africa and the African Diaspora. This space is centered around the historic Overtown community in Miami, Florida, USA. Miami is also one of the cities that hosts Art Basel. Art Miami Africa hosted a Trinidadian artist by the name of Miles Regis.
According to his bio, Regis “explores the black conditions by building a bridge both to the black art and black power movement”. Regis was showcased during the period of Art Basel. Regis’ artistic themes evoke the memory of the Trinidadian legend Kwame Ture aka Stokely Carmichael. Here is a chat we had with Miles Regis.
1) JW: What brought you into this world of Art?
MR: A need to express and present a communication from a perspective that was uniquely my own. I felt like I had a voice and a need to share my feelings on subject matters that are real to us in today’s society in the hope that it would resonate with audiences of different types and start conversations going on social issues we are all faced with in many different ways.
2) JW: Being Trinibagonian how do the T&T world and the Black power movement exist in your work.
MR: I recently saw a question online where they asked what was the first major news report you remember and I think it was the 70’s Black Power headlines of Trinidad. I remember my parents having to explain that it was ‘guerillas’ that the reporters were saying and not ‘gorillas’.
I think from early I could relate to the rebellious nature of the climate at the time. It’s powerful when people stand for what is ‘right’ as opposed to following what is the norm or expected traditional belief.
3) JW: With your heritage and focus on your work, Kwame Ture comes to mind, has the Afro-Caribbean icon been in any way an influence on your work? How?
MR: What a powerful man? The name Stokely Carmichael was indeed a household name when I was a child. And it stood for a lot. Pride! Son of the soil always instils a certain level of pride. And he was doing such majorly progressive work. My father’s brother is also a Stokely and I felt as if that made Mr Carmichael family for some odd reason. Well in my 7-year-old mind it did anyway. My mother’s siblings attended Howard University in the 70s as well so there were many stories I overheard back then but I have come to hear of more and learn more about as an adult. It was such a progressive time. Civil rights fighters were truly revolutionary.
4) JW: Considering this era of black activism throughout North America and the Caribbean does your art reflect this and how?
MR: I believe that it is important that my work reflective of what is happening in society. And my work reflects my concern, paranoia and desperation at times. But really speaks of finding solutions and finding healing. Demanding it and fighting for this. May of my paintings are my daily journals on my reaction to what is happening in the news headlines or can be deeply personal as far as socio political situations affecting my family directly.
5) JW: What has been the reaction to your work in the Caribbean? In the USA?
MR: I think Caribbean people can identify with my use of colour and my imagery very easily and are usually expressive about how my work makes them feel. They get the perspective I come from and can relate to the messages. ‘It’s all about a feeling you get when I see your work’ is what I often hear. It is very much the same with a US audience I believe. I’ve been told that experiencing my work brings about different emotions and I am proud to hear that response to the statements I try to make. That emotional response is truly always my intent. Connection to the statement in various ways. It is different from person to person.
6) JW: You call for the world to be woke, do you see your work as a catalyst for enhancing “wokeness” in the Pan African world.
MR: I hope that it is. I think there is a wave of artists who are conscious and are making strides in their own ways to connect with messages of hope and healing. I think bringing awareness is merely the beginning. Starting the conversation and moving towards working for solutions and finding healing in that process is what it is all about for me.
7) JW: What will a person experience once presented with your work at Art Africa Miami?
MR: Me embracing my truth as I always do with messages ranging from ideas of resistance, persistence and of hope, love and a call for healing and unity.
Jason Walker is a freelance writer who has had an award winning journalism career that spans over 20 years.
Jason Walker21 Posts
Patriot, Jamaican, Caribbean, Pan African, Humanist, Radio Personality, DJ. I have worked over 20 years as a Journalist for Caribbean Today Magazine, WRFG Radio 89.3 FM, Cross Over Media and several media outlets in the Caribbean and the US.