“When we observe calmly, we discover that everything has their fulfillment.” BASHO: Japanese Poet.
Judy Layne-Banks, a Barbadian batik artist who lives and works in the Kentucky Elementary school system as an art educator, spent part of the 2018 Spring Break reflecting on her visit to Barbados for CARIFESTA 2017.
Did she, as Basho does, believe that every form of existence be it plants, stones or utensils have individuals feelings similar to those of men (and women)?
“I don’t get to Barbados as often as I would like. My kind of calendar is crowded. However, these opportunities don’t come often and I felt inclined and obliged to be part of this great festival. Today, I still have fond memories of the rainbow of national colors, the street parade, the Caribbean dolls, and Guyanese dancers, among other things.” said Layne-Banks.
She added that “the CARIFESTA experience was extremely wholesome. A lot of positive energy flowed from the art displays, the performers and performances and the artists from the Caribbean Diaspora, as well as from Latin America. Each island offered brilliant creations, colorful art, energetic dances, rhythmic beats in music and dances, beautiful handicraft and a variety of enjoyable foods dishes. To be honest, it was a nesting place for new friendships, new ideas, and opportunities to gain new knowledge about our Caribbean history and culture.”
Layne-Banks suggested that time and research can change one’s perspective.
She noted that “when CARIFESTA came to Barbados back in the early eighties, she was only vaguely interested.
“I didn’t even think about researching the goals of the festival which was started by the late Forbes Burnham, prime minister of Guyana, back in 1972. As I prepared, I found that the goal was to bring artists, musicians [and] authors together to share the folklore and culture of the Caribbean and Latin American region. My interest grew from attending exhibitions and viewing performances to a fuller understanding of the benefit of participating in events like these.”
“The Caribbean and Latin America have rich and to some extent, unexplored cultures. I encourage everyone to celebrate the cultural diversity of the descendants of the people of the African Diaspora – a unique aspect of the Caribbean; and to support any effort which aims to portray the morals, the beliefs and the traditions of the Caribbean people – as well as to unite and to strengthen the cultural movement throughout the region. I presented my form of art and discussed its contribution to the culture of art in Barbados. This presentation allowed me to reflect on all the influences which contributed to my artistic development as a Barbadian fiber artist. After my presentation, I got questions and discussed areas of my work.”
Ultimately, for Layne-Banks, the 2017 summer event in Barbados was a spectacle and unlike her familiar classroom setting:
“The street parade of the islands transformed the highway to Kensington into a sea of color, laughter, rhythmic movement, song and a dance of happy people. In spite of the hitches which naturally occurred, the festival should be given two thumbs up. It [allows] generations of persons to see themselves through the culture of their land.”
Ultimately, from the organizers’ published perspective, Caribbean culture has moved from providing national and regional cohesion to exciting an entire world with its products and its diversity. CARIFESTA represents a special time for the celebration of our culture, our unique practices, customs and expressions that define us as a people. It also represents a time when we strategically share our culture with the rest of the world as reflected by the theme of CARIFESTA XIII which was Asserting Our Culture, Celebrating Ourselves.
That said, for Layne Banks, it appears that CARIFESTA was a cultural coal pot in summer and now a mirror in spring. We can only anticipate that some of the memories will appear on batik!
(Walter Edey is an author and retired educator who believes that structural thinking is the rising wave of the future.
E MAIL: werus 2642 @gmail.com.)