Thursday, December 29, 2016

Pressure from within: Life Springs forth


If the egg never cracks open from within, or, is cracked open by external force it will just decay and rot perfectly intact. And what would the point of its fucking existence then? There you have it, my first two lines...complete with profanity and existential wondering. 

Last week I was invited to an exclusive artsy soiree at La Luna Resort. I was told that I was especially invited to write and take pictures of Rene Froehlich's latest fiberglass sculpture exhibit: "Inside out".  In local parlance " Ah did feel nice!". No promises were made that there would be a resulting blog post. I had recently learned from Stacy Byer ( Grenadian artist and illustrator) that if work commissioned does not work for her, it will not be forced, she believes in great work...and she said so unapologetically. I took note.  
When I got to the gate of the Resort I let the security guard know I was there for the exhibit, he replied "Oh the party...go straight down". Party? He must not have understood...it was an exhibit. Or was it?  


The sun had just disappeared beneath the horizon as I walked down the steep path to the ocean front yoga pavilion. I saw a small bar set up in the distance (yes! The free wine I was hoping for), some sculptures in the area surrounding the yoga pavilion, and yes, there was music (it was quite party like). 


This was intriguing. I walked around the pavilion discovering illuminated female fiberglass  figures, incomplete or maybe broken (i.e missing arms and legs or parts thereof)  in the bushes. This was unlike any exhibit I had seen before. There were sculptures and installations in the garden of the art school next to my law school back in Trinidad but none that were so gracefully placed "in the bush" almost as if they simply belonged.  

I saw Asher Mains (as I usually do at these things) and we got to talking about the work. Asher explained that when Renee was in art school his teacher said " If an egg is cracked from the outside, it means death, but if it cracks from pressure from within that means life"...or something to that effect. What an amazing spring board to leap from into my internal journey into making sense of this exhibit. 

In the centre of the pavilion was a female figure, from just beneath crotch to neck, glowing from within, burst open at the sides.  Liberation!!!  
Many of us spend a large portion of our lives distracted by the task of  holding our shit together. There is so much internal chatter and external pressure. Pressure that has become our truth, and the benchmarks to which we hold the validity of our existence. The biggest lie is that allowing ourselves to be molded by this pressure will make us good and worthy. 

The figure, the centerpiece and conversation piece of this exhibit spoke to my soul. If we just ripped, from the pressure of our essence, it would be revealed that we glow from the inside . If we break from the pressure from anything else we are ruined...for nothing.  

Liberation, self determination and glowing from within and owning my magic have been the themes that have returned to me throughout this year's journey over and over...just as I suspected at the end of last year.  As I continued to explore the gardens (almost trampling the Resort's Kitchen garden to get an interesting perspective from behind the lens) the theme jumped out at me again and again.  


Zipping us up by the backside as we come undone, but the delightful truth remains; that the light which shines from within must be allowed to illuminate the darkness. 

There is an urgency guided by our almost mystified intuition to push against the boundaries. 

Incase the messages from the exhibit could not speak to me any more categorically there she was, ripping the box open as she emerged.  



Earlier this year I read (and listened to) The Celestine Prophesy by James Redfield. A Passage that stood out most to me was: 

 ' She hesitated for a moment, still looking at me intensely. " 

He said "the Manuscript dates back to about 600 BC. It predicts a massive transformation in human society."  


"Beginning when" I asked  
"In the last decades of the twentieth century."  
"Now?!"
 "Yes now"  
 "What kind of transformation is it supposed to be?" I asked.  

She looked embarrassed for a moment, then with force said, "The priest told me it's a kind of rennaisance of consciousness, occurring very slowly. It's not religious in nature, but spiritual. We are discovering something new about human life on this planet, about what our existence means, and according to the priest, this knowledge will alter human culture dramatically."'



Soul Adventures and the courage to return to authenticity vs crowd pleasing, and, being honest about my desires this year has set me on a path to a tingly magical space. I slowly awaken from the delusions and distractions...I have cracked. The pressure from within was too great, something was determined to be released, it was life longing for itself. The belief in a harmonious existence.  

Life was never about pristine uncracked egg in the first place. It is useless. This appearance must be shattered and the essence....life...must spring forth. 

Thank You Rene, for the timely reminder. 

The exhibit is open to the public until January 25th at La Luna Resort in Morne Rouge, St. George. 
You can follow Rene on Instagram for some behind the scenes images of his work and life. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Bridge: Journey and Connection

Jason deCaires Taylor

A few weeks ago my friend and fellow creative Asher Mains invited me to a preview event on Facebook (as one does) for Grenada Contemporary 3 The Bridge; an exhibit that will open on Tuesday 11th Oct, 2016 at Susan Mains Art Gallery at Spiceland Mall . I had forgotten all about the event until I dropped by the gallery on Friday to see whether I would by chance bump into Asher who had returned from exhibiting in Columbia a few weeks ago with Susan Mains and Christina Cornier(he rolls deep in the international art scene that Asher). I missed him, but, Daniella (also a creative that works and exhibits at the gallery) reminded me of the event. 

On Saturday evening at 5:10 I was in the valley of decisions (oh the drama). I was at torn between whether I should go to the preview at 6:00 or veg out with netflix during my mummy's alone time evening. I managed to tear myself away from binge watching gossip girl starting with SE 1 Ep1. 

I did not quite know what to expect from my evening. I thought it would be the usual exhibit set up (with free wine and nibbles) but with the artist being available for a chat. After all, it was called "Conversations with Artists".  As I approached the gallery, the glass doors were closed and I could see the small group, a panel and audience, already engaged in conversation. I slipped in and spotted one available seat, as I settled I began to get a feel for what this night was all about. 

The Bridge; a connection facilitating the journey from one to place to another, from the known to the unknown (as Susan so aptly put it), or maybe back to a familiar place. As the exhibiting artists present reflected on the concept of a bridge and how it was interpreted and represented in their work I zoned out. I had a vision of myself journeying from my self to my self on a bridge of my body which seemed to have become one with nature, overgrown with vine and moss suspended, hovering over a large body of water. A question was thrown out; who  is the hero of your piece? I zoned out again and the concept of the hero's journey came to mind. 

The Rick Field piece 

As the discussion progressed, Lilo, co owner of Art Fabrik (Grenada's only home grown batik boutique and studio) made a comment about artists in general and their defining trait being their ability to view their everyday surroundings and find the art. Artist Rick Field had just talked about his coral sunglasses iPhone photography piece. Lilo made a very valid point when she said that thousands of people go snorkelling everyday, and there must be millions of sunglasses that have become part of coral reefs all over the world. However, it takes an artist to pull from our surroundings, highlight and communicate something out of the ordinary and seemingly mundane. To find beauty and meaning and proactivity that is the mark of an artist. 

Lilo and Chris ( someone wearing their piece chatting with Teddy Frederick in the background )

As the conversation continued artist Teddy Frederick walked in with a woman. She was wearing one of Chris and Lilo's Art Fabrik creations. It was a one size batik shift dress. I have a similar dress that I made when I worked at the studio. It was the one time I was allowed to batik during my 6 month stint before I went to (The University of the West Indies (UWI). I still own this dress, in fact it is the dress I wore when I gave birth to Baby N, the exact moment I transitioned from maiden to mama in the most intense and transformative experience of my life. 
Me (in the red dress) at the snack and wine table next to the lady in the dress that was the bridge 
I decided to work at Art Fabrik after I had applied to study law back in 2008. At the time I thought it would be my last chance to work in a creative field before real life started. After I gave birth to Baby N I quit my job at the firm and started working on a creative marketing team that has allowed me to explore my creativity once more. It was a difficult decision leaving the field that I had spent 5 years studying and 2 years practicing in to write blogs and create Facebook, twitter and instagram content. It took a lot of courage for me to leave something so solid and respected for something so new (a real millennial profession...professional blogger!). I knew that I had to release myself into the current of life and that the opportunity to leave came into my life at just the right moment. The connection, the organic fibres of nature's bridge had already started to grow into the direction of my purpose while baby N was the size of a julie mango in my womb.

The birth of my daughter made me bold. It gave me the courage to be authentic and to not spend life holding on to the edge of the pool with clenched fingers afraid to let go. Life is for swimming in the limitless and vast expanse! I had been battling internally, disappointed that I did not remain true to my creative roots which I abandoned when it was time to "grow up". Her birth, and my rebirth, in the dress I made while having my fun being creative is  a symbol of my connection back to creativity as a lifestyle, as something valid that deserves energy and attention beyond one project every 10 years. This is a journey of myself to myself and through myself. It facilitated the journey back home, yet to the unknown. The two are not mutually exclusive. I will not go into explaining that 7 years invested into a legal eduction and experience was by no stretch a waste of my time  (that is another post). 

Recently I have been reading/listening to "The Celestine Prophesy" The second insight speaks about noticing the coincidence and seeing them as more. It is the way the universe communicates to the keen observer. It is about viewing life; history and present from a birds eye perspective, viewing the progression of events and seeing where we are at in relation to where we have been and possibly where we may go and all that we discover in between. Life is a continuum and perspective allows us to make the bridges and seeing all of life as one harmonious piece of literature. 

What is your bridge? Have you experienced something similar? A moment or event that makes that connection that sets you on an adventure...a soul adventure?


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Motherhood: Woman in Transition


Walking the land at Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate with Baby N

Life has changed. My brain is slowly catching up with reality and it only feels right that I pause here. 

Just after my daughter was born I was in new mom survival mode, learning to breast feed, accepting (still accepting) that my time was no longer my own and all the other things that come along with those first few months of motherhood.  Luckily I had time off from work to concentrate fully on mom duties. I felt so competent at about 1.5 months in that I travelled to Hamburg Germany from Grenada on my own with Baby N for three weeks to visit family. There I learned to take a train, bus and plane on my own with her. I learned how to pair down the usual diaper bag mountain of things to a few essentials: diapers, wipes and change of clothes, so that it would fit in my handbag. I managed to travel with her and too many bags than I could carry at once, relying on the kindness of strangers to assist me when getting on and off of trains and planes on international travels. 

That was the first transition, learning that my life is not my own exclusively anymore, and, that with every decision I make an innocent being who is my responsibility will be affected. That is not a light load to carry and it only makes sense that it will take some time, experience and and a serious mental overhaul for that to become second nature (at least for me).

Now I have started to work again and am at another transition phase. Presantly it feels like a test. Working is not foreign to me. However, working and balancing that with the very real responsibility of motherhood and partnership is a whole different ball game. I was accustomed to being able to stay late in the office if that was my most productive time without thinking of anyone else. Now I am very conscious of the limitations of time, and that feels strange, this is where the looking back has happened the most, while trying to come back to something that was before, but which I now view so differently. Often my train of thought is "before..."  or "when I was not a mom.....". I have only recently articulated that I am mourning the loss of my old life.

This mourning of the old me ushers in feelings of guilt. It makes me feel as though I am ungrateful for the very rewarding and amazing present.  Having a cuddly smiling Baby N to wake up to each day has been my greatest blessing. To watch as she learns to do the basic everyday things I can't remember life without  like: rolling over, sitting up and eating food is fascinating. I am such a proud mom.


I am not alone in this state of transition and mourning and it has been beautiful to connect with other women about this strange and awkward yet beautiful time. Finding our "selves" in this changed reality, becoming mothers, wives, partners and single ladies. It must be a natural reaction. 

It is amazing how much  compassion and awareness I have for the other women in transition and with that same consciousness I can be so hard on myself. A friend recently reminded me that I must treat myself like I would a friend that I loved, with as much positivity, compassion and warmth as I can muster.  Things that I held as truths about myself have changed, they no longer fit, they don't feel relevant and I am in the process making sense of that.  Maybe life's changes, trials and transitions are a way of stripping away the superficial layers that do not serve the best version of ourselves. Perhaps we are not changing, we are our same selves, evolved.


Nature helps. It always does...

This weekend we visited a place where I have found a lot of peace (with the exception of the unreasonable amount of  sand fly bites I get):  Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate in the north western parish of St. Mark. I was introduced to it by going around the island with the Grenada Chocolate Fest team to meet with the festival's participants. There I met the estate owners: the very opinionated Kim and the soothing force that is Lylette.  
Carly and Lylette 
Lyelette
I love standing under the shade of the cocoa trees and feeling the gentle breeze as the tiny cocoa blossoms floating through the air like fluffy snow flakes tickle my skin . I love the conversations, the honesty and nakedness that this unpretentious environment draws out of me. I love having that moment of bearing my soul in the topsy turvy state that it is in, wondering whether anything I said makes sense, and being met with the understanding, nonjudgmental and genuine eyes of another woman in transition.




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Raw Vegan Grenada Chocolate Nice Cream

My Dear Soul Adventurers,

You know how I am always on the lookout for those healthy desserts that I won't have to feel any guilt about eating. Well, when I add our local chocolate into the mix it pretty much just turns to magic. This year I joined the Grenada Chocolate Fest team and I am almost jumping out of my skin with excitement for 10 days (May 13th to 22nd) of celebrating our Grenadian first class cocoa. To do the ultimate writer "no no" I am about to go right ahead and say...I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Want to read more about the festival? Stay tuned as I blog over at www.grenadachocolatefest.com and follow Grenada Chocolate Fest on Facebook, instagram and twitter. 

Now on to the Nice Cream I have been whipping up in my kitchen. If you have been following me on Instagram (you should if you are not already) you would have seen me post a picture and rave about this delicious creation a few weeks ago. The best part is that it contains no sugar and is made from all local ingredients. Ok that is not completely accurate, the cocoa crunch which I topped it with contains some sugar (but you can leave it out). Nice cream has been making its rounds on the internet, I have tried making it in different ways but the chocolate version is the winner in my books.



Ingredients

6 Bananas
4 Tbl Spoons Grenadian Cocoa Powder
Vanilla Essence
Almond Essence
Cinnamon

Method
  1. Cut bananas into slices and freeze overnight ( I say over night, but really just keep them in the freezer until they are frozen)
  2. Blend Frozen Banana Slices with all the other ingredients until it forms a smooth paste
  3. Top with Caribbean Naturals Cocoa Crunch (optional, really you can top it with whatever you like) 
It is that simple and oh so delicious. 

Have you been experimenting with delicious yet healthy alternatives? Drop me some recipes below so I can try them out. The post pregnancy body struggle is real out here!! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Grenada Soul Adventurer: Christina Cornier PART 2

This is a continuation of my interview with Christina, a 33 year old artist from Chicago who followed her bliss in Grenada and became the woman and artist she always knew she was. Click here for part 1.

What was most frustrating about that time when you were not really making art? Can you articulate it, were there specific thoughts or were you just angry and did not know why?

I knew it was because I was not making enough art. But I got trapped in this cycle of feeling that I couldn't quite because of the financial stability it afforded me. So I knew I could pay the bills but I was miserable. Painting is like therapy for me. I need it. I start feeling really agitated when I have not worked on anything in a while.


I know that feeling. You start to resent yourself for not making it a priority. When we are angry at ourselves we get angry at other people too. 

Ha! Yes!I try to be kind to myself these days though and not beat myself up or let myself get angry if I didn't use my time wisely for making art.


That is a healthy practice

I try, it's hard though!


You can’t get to where you want to be while resisting where you are at…I have another quote! Wait for it!!
I'm excited for it!



When did you come to Grenada?
January 2014


Did you start on your art straight away? Did you know you wanted to dedicate your time to it while you were here…was that the plan?                                                      
That was the plan. For years I had been planning how to leave my job and leap into painting full-time but never had the courage to do it because of the financial security thing I mentioned earlier. I mostly supported David and I when we were first married, and I had so much debt. When David told me he wanted to go to SGU  we planned together that this would be the perfect time for me to take that leap into full-time artist. We blew through all of our savings during the two years we were there, but, it was completely worth it because it changed our lives for the better.

I think it is amazing that you both supported each other like that, in the end you both got what you desired in Grenada, that is a partnership. 
It's true. I went to Grenada for David but discovered myself there and found in it (Grenada) a new home. 

Apart from having the time in Grenada how did you approach your art differently?
I learned to schedule my week in advance. I like the idea of being moved by inspiration and working when the mood hits, but for me that doesn't work. I have to have dedicated time set out to be in my studio/workspace. Once I'm there in the space and have time to create, the inspiration comes and I'm super productive.

Yes! There is this idea out there that artists work when inspiration hits and that it is all very romantic
Maybe that works for some people but not me


It is good to hear that it can be approached in a structured way like other work.
I learned how to work that way watching David study for medical school. He had to be so structured with his time and got so much done. 


Once you start the work do you get into the “zone”?
I can usually always find the zone. Even on days that are not as productive I still feel good just have worked at least a little


How did you and David end up choosing Grenada?
He (David) had a friend that went to SGU and had a really positive experience. I really wanted to live somewhere warm and beautiful where I could be near the ocean and nature so when I did my research on Grenada I fell in love with it. It was the only school he applied to.

Aside from the intention to dedicate most of your time to your art before you came to Grenada, what else about being here inspired you, and, ultimately caused you to flourish as an artist? I am a firm believer that environment has a huge role to play in success.
Like I mentioned earlier being near the sea was a HUGE deal. And green mountains and colorful houses and the sun shining everyday. I felt like crying out of joy everyday when I looked around me. That kind of beauty, that feeling, played a huge role in my art-making.


You have, in part,  credited your evolution into a full time artist to finding like minded people. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
Yeah, I get really inspired by other people. So finding others who live their lives passionately is like fuel for me. I love talking to interesting people. It was tough right when I moved to Grenada because David was in school and I knew NO ONE. I ended up spending a lot of time and energy with people that I met though the school, other SOs (Significant Others), who were miserable in Grenada and that really brought me down. I had to make the decision to break from them and seek out people that would make me feel inspired.

Yes! It is all about the energy you surround yourself with. Who did you find and how did you find them?
I found Jamie and Amber (owners of Conservation Kayak) because I went on a kayak trip and later reached out to them and I met Carly through volunteering at the Queen Elizabeth Orphanage

You also mentioned you met Asher and Susan Mains, when did you meet them?
I went to Asher's art opening in July 2014 and introduced myself to them. I was awe-struck by them.
 

What about Susan and Asher had you awe-struck?
I had done research about what was going on in the art community in Grenada prior to moving there and had discovered both of them. I loved their work and had been following them on Facebook and had it as a goal to meet them. Their work was different but very complimentary. I loved how they both used color and texture in their paintings. I visited Art and Soul several times to see their work and to hopefully meet Susan but it wasn't until Asher's solo show about seven months later that our paths finally crossed.

That is so interesting, you literally planned to meet them in pursuit of your dream to make being an artist the focus in your day to day.
Yeah! Mostly I wanted to learn from them and surround myself around other artists to build a community. I intended on participating in some of the open call group shows that the Arts Council and Art and Soul regularly put together but I had no idea that my relationship with Susan would lead to two solo shows and representation in her gallery. It was beyond what I had imagined.



Your story is giving me life!
I'm so glad! It's funny that now looking back on it, it is really amazing how it all happened. It was a lot of work though. The structure we talked about before in my art making was also due to my feeling that I had to keep producing work in order to prove myself. Sort of like I wanted to be taken seriously and play with the big kids so I worked harder than I ever had before.

How did you feel once you committed to art full time?
I felt like I was finally living the life I was meant to live. I can get up in the morning and work on a painting all day without feeling the same exhaustion after working an 8 hour day at a desk job. I've been the happiest I have ever been since making the switch to full time artist.



What started happening in your life? 
Once I made the switch my stress level went down. I had always thought that I was an anxious person but really I was just unhappy. I would have panic attacks all the time and would feel incredibly emotionally unstable, especially when I was working too much. About a year into living in Grenada I commented to David how I hadn't had a single panic attack since moving there and quickly made the connection to it being since I had made the transition to full time artist.

Did you participate in exhibits before you came to Grenada?
I participated in a number of shows right after finishing college in 2007. I was part of group shows in several galleries around Chicago and even had a solo show at an alternative artist live/work/show space called the Flat Iron in Chicago. After a couple years of doing these shows I realized I was just showing the same work over and over again to the same supportive people so it was time for me to take a break from exhibiting until I made new work. Then I got so busy with my desk job that the new work was never made... until I moved to Grenada.


What did it feel like doing your first solo exhibit in Grenada?
It felt like a dream come true. I had done so much research, prior to moving to Grenada, on what was happening in the art scene with the Arts Council and Susan and Asher and Susan Mains Gallery and I wanted so badly to be part of it. 
To be recognized by Susan and given the opportunity to show in her gallery made me feel like what I was doing had value. I also had such an outpouring of support from the rest of the art community in Grenada, from Daniela and Rene and Chris and Lilo from Art Fabrik. So many people showed up for the opening filled with positive energy and love and support, it was really wonderful. 

Did you feel nervous? If so, why or why not?
Definitely. Exhibiting my paintings can feel like posting pages from my diary on the wall for everyone to see. It makes me feel so vulnerable. But people respond positively to that because they can relate.
I am learning to have more confidence with what I want to say in my work. 
I can also have a hard time talking about my paintings. Having an exhibit I knew I would have to make a speech and be involved in conversations with many people about the subject of my work which can be hard to talk about. When I was younger I used to say "I paint because I don't know how to talk about what I am feeling". But talking about work is really important and when you don't you can isolate people who want to engage. 
I was so nervous about making a speech that for my first opening at Susan Mains Gallery I asked Susan if I could not make a speech. She laughed and said no, this would be good practice for something that was important and I needed to become comfortable doing it. I now try to do a lot of writing about what I am thinking about when I paint and when I know I need to make a speech I practice first with David at home.


Now that you have had these experiences, and you have returned home, what has changed for you? 
I know for sure that I want to keep the momentum going that I created in Grenada of committing 100% to my art. I had contemplated going back into the spa industry so that I would have guaranteed income every month, but I feel like that would potentially be closing the door on this thing that is working and that I love. Currently I have been making money by painting portraits for people and I have been working on illustrations and cover art for several children's books. I would like to continue using my art skills to make a living. 


Any plans for the future with art ?                                                                                         I am keeping up my relationship with Susan and the gallery and I plan on returning to Grenada at least once a year to bring more work and hopefully participate in more shows. I would also really love to hook up with another gallery once I have settled in New York. The ultimate goal is to be self-supporting through my art and to surround myself within a community of like-minded individuals who keep me engaged and participating in the art world.

Find Christina on instagram or check out her website www.christinacornier.com. Shoot her an e-mail if you want to commission a piece or are interested in buying any of her pieces.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grenada Soul Adventurer: Christina Cornier PART 1


“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked "Because, wherever your heart is. that is where you will find your treasure" - The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho


PROFILE

Christina Cornier 

33. Artist.Chicago




I met Christina in December of 2015. I was walking past Art and Soul gallery in the Spiceland Mall with Baby N and a friend when I saw Asher Mains and some other artists sitting in the dimly lit gallery, it looked like they were having a meeting. I waved eagerly so as to catch his attention so that he could meet the freshly hatched Baby N. I was let into the gallery and greeted warmly by Susan (the gallery owner and Asher's mom), who introduced me to to  Christina. They were meeting over cocoa tea to discuss her upcoming solo exhibit "Gaze". I took Christina's card intiuitively knowing that one day I would interview her, I was feeling her vibe.

As fate would have it Christina and I met again at the going away dinner of mutual friends. At that dinner we planned to have dinner with her and her husband when her father, one of the drummers of eclectic international  band: Funkadesi, and her step mom, the ever inspiring Michelle, were in Grenada. 

Over sushi we discussed the journey of how she blossomed into the person and artist she knew she was when she came to Grenada. For 11 years, the university educated artist worked as a spa manager in Chicago.  That conversation at dinner  solidified my first instinct, this woman had a story that I wanted to hear and I think the Grenada Soul Adventurer community would enjoy it too. I know you guys are suckers for a good hero's tale. 

Unfortunately an in person interview was not in the cards as I was going to Germany the next day and she was returning to the United States for good during my three week travels. Fortunately we live in the age of instant communication.  I approached her online and asked whether she wanted to do the interview through the inter-webs, she agreed and this is what we chatted about. 


When did you start making art?                                                                                          My parents say it was when I was really little, like 2. My dad had a job as a graphic designer, so I saw him working at a drafting table and insisted they buy me one too

Did they buy it?                                                                                                                  Yeah! They set up a tiny yellow plastic art desk next to his for me to draw on.

Oh that is so sweet! Did you end up sitting side by side drawing?
I think so... I'm pretty sure a photo of that exists somewhere.




Do you identify as an artist…like when people ask “what do you do”? 
Yes. But it took me a really long time to say that with confidence because I wasn't making money at it. I managed a spa in Chicago for 11 years so I used to tell people that... and then I would pause and say "oh but what I really want to do is paint”. It took a really long time to feel able to have "I'm an artist" be the first thing I say. Like even when I have to fill out on paperwork what my occupation is I have to remind myself that it's ok to write that.


Do you remember when you started actually owning the title "Artist"? Was it in Grenada? 
It was definitely in Grenada. Grenada gave me confidence and I had the space to create my art there without the distraction of the full time job that had tied me down. Also, being represented by Susan Mains' gallery and having people buy my work gave it a value that I knew it had, but, apparently was seeking from others as well.

What do you create? What is your Art?
I feel I make art as a feminist statement. I'm really interested in representing women in ways that challenge how they are traditionally depicted in art and in the media.




Just like in your last exhibit “Gaze” at Susan Mains’ Gallery
Exactly. When I look back at my paintings, even as far back as high school, women and representation have always been my main themes.




Have you had an obvious feminist influence from friends, family or teachers or did it happen organically?                                                                                                            
My mom is a feminist and was definitely a strong influence on me. I also have a huge network of "aunts" who are not blood relatives but friends of my parents who helped raise me... all smart, creative women. My mom worked at the Art Institute of Chicago when I was really little and taught me about feminist arts like Judy Chicago and the Guerilla Girls who I thought were so cool, ”feminist artists".

That is amazing, I want my daughter to have that sort of strong feminine (whatever that means to the relevant individual) tribe of women that she can look up to. I think it is important to consciously build confidence in young girls.                                   
Absolutely. I hope for that too if I have a daughter one day

What inspires you?                                                                                                               
I'm inspired by people, seeing different people's unique beauty. I also get really inspired watching different styles of dance. Several of my friends are dancers so I grew up going to lots of different styles of dance shows. I always get amazing ideas for paintings after watching people dance.



That is interesting, inspiration from different creative disciplines, but I totally get it.

Totally! That's why I thought the art program Asher  did recently was so interesting... there were all different sorts of artist working together and critiquing and inspiring one another.I believe it was a Master of Fine Arts program that is open to artists of all disciplines. I remember him talking about a dj and a tight-rope-walker were also in his program.

Are you working now that you are back in the states?

Yeah, I'm actually back at the spa that I used to manage!

BUT just until the end of April


You said that you did that for 11 years and identified as the manager of a spa, is art still primary in you life like how it was in Grenada?

Art is definitely primary. The way I felt in Grenada was the way I had always wanted to feel. Like I was finally able to be the person I was meant to be. I used to be angry all the time and resentful of the job for taking up all my time. A year into living in Grenada David (my husband) even mentioned that he noticed I was never angry anymore.


There is this Gandhi quote, let me google it… “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”

Ah! That's so good! I love it

.......

Watch out for Part 2 of this interview!


In the meantime find Christina on instagram or check out her website www.christinacornier.com. Shoot her an e-mail if you want to commission a piece or are interested in buying any of her existing pieces.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Grenada Soul Adventurer Kitchen: No Bake Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake



If you have been following me on Instagram (if you don't you should go do that now....welcome back) you would have seen me posting pictures of one of my latest culinary obsessions, raw vegan sweet treats. I have experimented with brownies and now I have graduated to raw (for the most part) vegan cheesecake cake. 

It all started one Sunday when my friend Dawnelle and I wanted to make a raw vegan cheesecake that did not include cashews. Neither of us have nut allergies, but, the price of cashews in Grenada is almost prohibitive. I refused to buy them! There we were with two cans of coconut milk, some bananas and dates and google hoping to make raw vegan magic.   We chanced upon this recipe which I ended up modifying to suit my chocolaty needs. 

These vegan and for the most part raw desserts are very trendy but also slightly mysterious.
How to make a raw cheesecake without eggs?
How to sweeten without sugar?
What is this sorcery and why have we not been doing it all along?

Ingredients 

1 cup Peanuts or Almonds (raw or roasted)
1 1/2 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 cup Coconut Cream
1 Banana
2 Large Pitted Dates
2-3 tbsp Cocoa Powder
Sprinkle of Course Sea Salt

Instructions


Crust

To make the crust blend peanuts or almonds in a food processor with coconut oil. I found adding dates when using strictly almonds helped to make the crust more sticky.


Cheesecake Filling  

Blend coconut cream*,  pitted dates, banana and cocoa powered together and pour over crust and chill in the freezer overnight or until the filling stiffens to the point where the cake can be cut. Sprinkle some corse sea salt over the top for that yummy contrast in flavours (if you are into it).

That is it. It was that easy!

I was very pleased with the outcome, it was pretty much guilt free and I did not miss any of the processed ingredients we usually use for traditional cheesecakes. Yes the flavour is not the same but I cannot complain one bit about the result.

Let me know if you tried this recipe and whether the raw vegan dessert trend is all it is cracked up to be over on Intagram and Pinterest. Tag me in your pictures on Instagram! Let us keep this beautiful Grenada Soul Adventurer community blooming!

* To get coconut cream let your can(s) of coconut milk chill overnight without being moved. The next day you just scoop the cream which has separated and floated to the top into your blender (You are welcome...I just save you a google search).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

How to Survive Long Distance travel with a 2 month old (Alone)


If you have been part of the Grenada Soul Adventurer Community for a little while  you would know I have a serious case of Wanderlust. One of the things I was afraid I would have to leave behind once I became a mom was travelling. Thankfully I have a habit of walking directly towards my fear and accepting the challenge of overcoming it. To date it has always lead to enriching experiences and I have not regretted any of it.

The thing about fear is that in doing the things we are afraid to do, the reward usually outweighs the perceived discomfort of danger.  Sure we could let fear stop us from doing things but that sort of tepid existence is not for the I and I. 

In true Grenada Soul Adventurer fashion I decided to jump optimistically into the deep end with the attitude that once the 20 hrs of travel time, with plane and train with baby in toe  from Grenada to Hamburg Germany(did I mention that I was doing all of this by myself as my partner has to work), did not kill us everything would be fine. As it turns out we did not die and honestly the experience was a lot more pleasant than I ever could have imagined. 

Since Baby N is only two months old she will not remember this trip but I will take lots of pictures and tell her all about the time her Mami could not resist the cheap (ish) air fare and the allure of seeing snow again and decided to take a spontaneous trip to Hamburg to visit family. 

Here is my survival guide for long distance alone with a 2 month old:

Hand Luggage

When I was preparing my list for things to pack into my hand luggage I was shocked at how extensive it was. I felt like I had to prepare for every eventually with baby N and also make sure my most valuable possessions (Laptop and heavy DSLR camera and their cables) were with me. 
Here are the things I found to be essential:

For Baby

  • Pampers -  How many will vary depending on the travel time and how many pampers your baby will usually go through in that time span. Pack  a few extra just incase you mess up with rookie mistakes like changing as soon as baby poops and then having her poop into the fresh diaper while you are changing her
  • Baby Wipes
  • Change of Clothes- accidents happen and you want to make sure your little one is comfortable for the entire journey. I packed two extra onsies and pyjamas. 
  • Destination weather appropriate clothes

For Mami

  • Snack and a meal - Plane food is notoriously bad and not eating is not an option especially when you are breast feeding. You need to fuel to keep up your energy and to produce milk for your tiny travel companion. 
  • Breast feeding cover- I  know we are in the controversial age of free the nipple, and I am all for making a political point, however,  although I am a lot less bashful than I was before I am not opposed to wearing a cover especially when cramped in economy class or sitting in a train in close proximity to total strangers.
  • Change of clothes- Just incase I ended up with baby throw up down my back I wanted to make sure I could at least change my shirt 
  • Destination weather appropriate clothes 
  • Book ( or your choice of entertainment)
  • Passports (obviously) 
  • Pen (don't you hate when you forget this)
  • Mobile phone  

What to wear

Baby 

  • Onsie and Pijamas (with the foot part)  These are really easy for diaper changing and keep baby warm and cozy on those air-conditioned flights.* 

Mami

  • Comfortable clothes with easy boob access. I wore an oversized mens shirt, jeans and sneakers.* 
  • Baby wearing wrap. I am a huge advocate of baby wearing generally, and,  when it comes to travelling with a baby I would not step foot on a plane or train without it. I had two hands free to carry my luggage and was able to move around the plane without ease because Baby N was strapped to me the entire time. I think it also helped her to sleep for almost the entire flight because she was cozy and felt safe. 
  • Cream to keep yourself moisturised on those dehydrating flights
  • A little makeup. I am not a huge makeup wearer but a little lipstick, blush and eyebrow taming mascara goes a long way. 

*Once you get to your destination you shed or add layers as appropriate

Get an aisle seat 

You want to be able to move around freely. All parents know that bounce that keeps a total meltdown at bay. Imagine trying to wriggle your way out of a window or middle seat with a crying baby. Also...explosive diapers that need fast reactions....JUST GET THE AISLE SEAT...TRUST ME.

Feed Baby while ascending and descending 

The swallowing motion helps to prevent pressure and keeps baby's ears from popping. Have you ever felt that insane pressure? I had it once as a child and thought my head would explode, now imagine that happening to a two month old. Not fun for anyone involved! 

Drink Water

Flying is extremely dehydrating, couple that with breast feeding and you will find you will need a lot of water. Don't be afraid to ask flight attendants for several bottles, they are usually very understanding and helpful when they see moms travelling with babies. 

Eat

Whether it is plane food or you bring your own meal make sure you are taking in nutrients, you will need the energy for yourself and for your body to produce milk for your baby

Ditch the Baby Bag and put baby essentials into your carryon

You don't want to have too many different bags to manage. Consolidating your things and baby's things into a carryon bag with wheels will take care of that bag falling off your shoulder problem. 

Use the trolly

It is difficult pulling two or more suitcases through an airport,  if you have multiple bags (even when baby wearing) use a trolly to make life easier for yourself.

Keep your travel documents organised

I have been guilty of fumbling around trying to find my travel documents one time too many. With a baby you want to be as efficient as possible. Keep your passports and other travel documents together and easily accessible for whenever they are required. 

Be organised generally

You cannot prepare for every eventuality but try as much as possible to prevent any stress that comes from disorganisation. On my way to Hamburg from Frankfurt I took a train and had not reserved a seat (I did not know that you could even reserve a seat). That meant that after I had settled down with my bags and baggages, took off my coat, scarf and hat and settled down with Baby N I had to reverse that entire spiel and move to another seat once its rightful occupant came along. That sucked! 

Stay positive

It can be daunting travelling alone with a little baby but getting yourself into a negative state of mind won't do you any good. Don't listen to travel horror stories, instead envision a smooth and enjoyable journey with your little one. If things get challenging you will already be in a good frame of mind to problem solve. On my journey to Hamburg I had some challenges with my train ticket in Frankfurt, I had to do a bit more walking and ask a few questions but I remained calm throughout and was able to solve my issues. Unexpected things crop up, so expect them! 

Ask Questions

If you are travelling an unfamiliar route, don't be afraid to stop someone and ask a question. It will take less time than trying to figure it all out by yourself. You don't want your journey to be more complicated or lengthy than it has to be. 

Accept Help 

Remember how I was saying that I had learned to ask for and accept help and that it did not make me less of a person. Well, that really counts when travelling alone with a baby. Luckily the world is full of more helpful and understanding people than we are lead to believe. Almost every time I was moving around with my things someone offered to help me with my luggage. It is important to keep some sort of control over the situation (after all you are trusting a stranger with your stuff) but generally your instincts will guided you. 

Safety First! Stay in communication with Family and Friends 

This one is very important. Since you and baby are on your own you need to let friends and family know your itinerary so that they can know when to expect to hear from you. This is for your own safety and their peace of mind. Airports usually have free wifi for at least 20 minutes to half an hour. Check in and let your family and friends know you have arrived safely and when you expect to reach your accommodation. If you are travelling to a place where you don't know anyone write a quick message home everyday and let your family know what your plan is for the next day and then check back in when you get back from your day of activities. This way, if in the unlikely event that something does happen to you and baby your family will have a rough idea where to start their search. 


I hope this post has helped anyone who wants to travel with a young baby but is worried that it will be too complicated. The truth is, a 2 month old baby is very compact and easy to travel with in terms of physically carrying him or her. Another plus is that they pay almost nothing in air fare. Travel is very important to me, it is one of those things that keeps me balanced and happy. It is a challenge incorporating a baby into that lifestyle but it is absolutely doable and they will be happy once they are close to you. 

Have any of you traveled with a baby or want to travel with a baby? 
What have been your experiences?
Do you have any tips for me?

I look forward to hearing from you! 

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Peace and Bliss, 

Grenada Soul Adventurer