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In Focus: Bridging the gap between the real and ideal image of Barbados with Akilah Watts

Akilah Watts is a Barbadian Contemporary Artist who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art in 2017 and went on to participate in Prizm Art Fair of that same year. Watts works with a number of media including drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture as well as high and low relief paintings. Watts has exhibited locally (Barbados) in a number of group exhibitions and hosted her first solo show in March 2019. She has also exhibited Internationally in Miami and Romania and has been featured online in exhibitions, auctions, articles, and shops such as Les iles and Ebony Art Spot.

Watts has been featured in a few local publications such as the Easy magazine and the M People magazine and internationally online on Troo Gallery and Les iles. Watts is currently working on multiple bodies of work. One focuses on her relationship with natural hair and her Caribbean roots, while another body of work entitled “Moments From My Island Home” is her way of bridging the gap between the realistic and the idealistic view of her island Barbados.

Acrylic on Canvas 36 in. x 36 in. 2021

One of my favorite things when painting is the details and with this piece in particular it’s the ornaments and frames at the bottom left of the image. If you look good you can see a character that is featured in another painting.

Picnic in Paradise
Acrylic on Canvas 24 in. x 30 in. 2021

I am interested in depicting a black Barbadian experience. My work focuses a lot on my own personal experience as a black Barbadian Artist but I also touch on a more general Caribbean experience in some of my works. I use imagery such as fruits and vegetables I would have grown up seeing, Barbadian folklore character(Mother Sally), seascapes and landscapes as well as many prints traditionally found on fabric in old Barbadian homes.

“Five Finger Felicia” -2019
Acrylic on canvas
“Sweet Sandra” SOLD 

I want the viewer to be entranced in a style of Caribbean art that feels familiar but still relatable.

Trapped in paradise is a body of work that was created during the quarantine portion of Covid-19 in 2020. It examines ideas of paradise as a type of cage, not only with its imagery but with its ideologies both taught and adapted from the western world. In addition to imagery such as the palm tree and mother sally, I touch on things such as mental slavery, blind faith, and followers as well as death, and birth.

This series also explores the different aspects of my identity as a black Barbadian Contemporary artist. It touches on different aspects like nationalism through works that deal with the projection of Barbadian national identity through symbolism and suggestion.

A Vision of My Island
Acrylic on Watercolor paper 20 in. in diametre 2020
The Great Accretion
Acrylic on Watercolor paper 2021
Pondering the Veiled
Acrylic on Watercolor paper 20 in. in diametre 2020
Akilah Watts art in situ featured in the new Golden Square Freedom Park in Bridgetown, Barbados in celebration of its Independence
This Stranger Feels Like HOme
Acrylic on Canvas 24 in. x 36 in. 2020

My main goal is to instill a feeling of Nostalgia and or curiosity in the people who view my work. One new body of my work features a character that I call the “Acretia”, she is a spiritual entity whose continence bestows confidence, grace, and beauty on whomever she inhabits. When a person is inhabited by the Acretia they take on a look of regality which intern makes the viewer pay attention to the message being conveyed.

My newest body of work focuses on bridging the gap between the realistic and the idealistic view of my island Barbados.

Follow Akilah on social media >

✽ Instagram

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