ARTIST IN THE SPOTLIGHT | June Collie
Welcome back to Cacique’s Artist In The Spotlight series - a journey into a thriving Bahamian art scene and a deeper look at some of our most celebrated talents. In this episode, we are chatting with June Collie, who is currently in the midst of her creative stint at The current.
With an eye for feminine emotion a distinctive whimsicalness about her colour scheme, June's latest body of work powerfully captures her desire to tell stories of those around her. June's expressive portrayal of women and their many roles in Bahamian society shed light on bold themes all within the confines of a vibrant but deliberate painting. The hues of Caribbean life flow from one painting to the next as though they all share a deep interconnectedness. With a mindfulness about her, June methodically selects her muse, story and dearest pattern notebook and carves the path for her next masterpiece. The best way to experience this lush and evolving collection is to pay June a visit at her studio perch amongst the artistic backdrop that is The Current and watch her tirelessly create.
Cacique. What inspires you ?
June. My art is inspired by meaningful conversations with family, friends and sometimes with strangers. Holding each person and their story close to my heart, I begin to connect with them on a deeper level. These stories about feelings, race, identity and gender are an important element of my work. I begin each piece by taking note of a particular persons emotion and their place and identity in this world. I try to convey this in each painting. I want to show that we all, however differing from one another, must lead a life that matters. I want to spark conversations about ourselves cast in a light of love and resilience.
C. How do you know when a piece is finished ?
J. Each piece is planned before I put brush to canvas. I've already picked the color scheme, the layout and the mood. There is this really awesome quote from Leonardo da Vinci that I always try and channel. "Art is never finished, only abandoned." I think this is so true — I've always felt that if you continue painting, it is likely going to begin taking the form of something entirely different and unintended. One of the reasons behind my methodical planning is that I am the kind of person that will get carried away. It's important to me that the message/story doesn't get muddled. I want my audience to be fairly clear when experiencing my art. What I've decided in my creative journey is to continue the same ideas on new canvases and see how the art evolves from there.
C. How has your practice changed over time ?
J. At one point, I only produced artwork when I felt inspired. This 'block’ caused a lot of overthinking and hours of frustration which perpetuated the block and very little was produced. It was a time when I wasn't controlling my creative process and felt my storytelling was weak. After reading one of my now favorite quotes from Chuk Close, "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just show up and get to work" I realized that I needed to gain the confidence to create and let the art part play out on its own. So with a new eye, I learn to listen and pay attention. I strive to create art that is understood without an explanation. I want viewers to relate and see themselves as apart of the story. We are all a part of this and our stories are all relatable. I feel I've been able to do this.
C. Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most ?
J. Hearing the stories that inspire the work. No matter who you are or where you come from, the human spirit wants to be validated. We tell stories based on our culture and ethnicity; it is the way we witness our experiences. The stories told to me are people giving an account of things that have shaped our society. I feel it's essential to use my art to become one of the witnesses to their story. It is crucial to the Bahamian identity, especially when ensuring that our voices are heard.
C. Art Culture is booming in the Bahamas - what has been a catalyst for this ?
J. In my opinion, more artists are being added to the mix and they are vocal and more deliberate in their delivery. They are bringing topical themes of today including politics, gender equality, racism etc to light. I think this is quite powerful and moving. It means that more people are touched by the art because they can relate. It's exciting to see what we, an island nation, are capable of producing! Pieces that spark much-needed conversations!!
C. What's themes do you pursue and what memorable responses have you experienced ?
J. Vulnerability, self-love, selfishness, gender equality, Bahamian pride, a hint of Bahamian History, togetherness, feminism, controlling the narrative of what it means to be a woman. So far, responses have been positive which is fulfilling. It's surreal to go through all the motions of a single piece and then someone "gets it”and can accurately interpret what is behind the piece. Quite a few of my pieces feature nude women which really speaks to vulnerability and womanhood, an area where the Bahamas is lacking and has a lot of ground to make up. I hope that we can get to a place where women are celebrated for who they are rather than the dangerous labels and stereotypes that society places on them.
C. What is the most INDISPENSABLE item in your studio ?
J. My mood. If I'm not in the 'right' mood, I end up making changes to colors, pattern designs, and sometimes to the figures. I've now realized that certain factors encourage or inhibit my creative practice and so I am very aware of my mindset when in the studio. Today, I set the mood in my studio space by playing music or listening to motivational speeches on youtube.
C. Artistically, what is your goal ?
J. Right now, I want to create artwork that gets noticed. I want to leave my footprint and be the best that I can be.
DISCOVER CACIQUE | ART EXPERIENCES
At Cacique, we love to showcase our colourful art scene and the characters that create its distinct flair. For more information on June Collie or any of our other fabulous Artists In The Spotlight, or to find out about curating a unique event, feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to the next chat! SMS ;)