“Love you for who you are, and don’t let society tell you how you should express yourself.”
That is the message 19-year-old Theona Hinds aims to communicate through her art.
For as long as she can remember, art has been a big part of her life, with her parents Theo and Michelle Hinds being artists themselves.
Hinds recalled that she just drew at first and did not take art seriously until a few years ago when her mother’s contagious passion for creating art “spilled onto me”.
It was while in sixth form at The Lodge School that she was introduced to clay by her Art and Design teacher. And while she was simply experimenting at the beginning, she eventually grew to love the medium.
Hinds now draws, paints, and creates Plaster of Paris moulds, but clay modeling is her main love.
“I decided to make art my . . . career choice because it’s always been a part of me, but only recently I understood what I really wanted to do with my life,” she said.
“Art has always been something that people [see] as leisure, rather than a career choice and something that you can be serious about and something that you can make money from and have a say in this world.”
Hinds recently displayed two pieces of her artwork in an exhibition at the Barbados Community College (BCC). The two-part series was entitled A Celebration Of Flaws, with the displays My Flaws Are Beautiful and Perfect In My Imperfections. The clay varnished pieces were more than just works of art; they carried strong messages for young girls and women.
“Society has this standard of beauty that they expect you to reach and when you don’t live up to that expectation you are considered ugly or flawed. So, I kind of wanted to put that out there and speak for all of the persons who were condemned by society.
“And I just wanted for anyone who viewed my pieces to feel that they are good enough, and that we don’t have to try to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty but we can be beautiful just the way God made us,” she explained.
Perfect In My Imperfections, which depicted women of different shapes and sizes seated on a staircase, was her favourite piece, particularly because of the message embedded in it.
Both pieces were well received by visitors to the exhibition.
“I feel with every piece I get better, because I learn from the mistakes I have made before, and since they are my latest works I feel like from here I can only get better.”
Having just completed the Associate Degree in Visual Arts at BCC, Hinds reflected on the lessons she has learnt.
“Before, I would just create art without a message behind my pieces. I just had an idea and I just did it because I wanted to,” she said, adding that her tutors helped her to understand the importance of “having a story to tell or a strong message to communicate” because there was no point to the art without it.
Hinds named British painter Jenny Saville as one of her inspirations after she created a painting that depicted women in a grotesque way, exaggerating the details to emphasize that they are not perfect.
Her next step is to pursue the Bachelor’s in Studio Arts at the BCC, with the hope of one day being an entrepreneur. She is yet to decide exactly what kind of business she wants to have, but she knows she wants to be a sculptor and to continue working with clay.
Hinds hopes that young people will not be disheartened by what society thinks about art.
“It is so ingrained in our society, like everywhere you turn art is not important,” she lamented. “There are young people whose voices need to be heard, and if they keep pushing on, society will become more accepting to art.”
Making reference to the 1937 Guernica painting by Pablo Picasso that depicted the tragedy that followed the bombing of the Spanish village of Guernica by Nazis, Hinds insisted that art can be a source of inspiration for social commentary and can highlight issues in society.
When asked what she loves most about art, Hinds said it is being able to let people see what is on her mind.
“There are so many things I can say . . . . I can just put every thought that I have into my work, and that’s my favourite thing.”