THE GUYANA ISSUE


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The 'Guyana Issue,' OF NOTE magazine
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THE GUYANA ISSUE

 editor’s note

The Guyana Issue confronts the global invisibility of Guyanese artists. According to the nation’s latest census, Guyana has a population of over 750,000 and an estimated 2,000,000 citizens living outside its borders. This reveals that almost three times as many Guyanese live overseas than within the nation itself. And yet what the global public often sees of Guyana and its citizens still center on the exotic, the tropical, the colonial, and the touristic. The artists in this issue aim to counter this historic malpractice and seek out innovative and critical perspectives to engage conversations about Guyana and its vast diaspora. —Grace Aneiza Ali

 

Artists OF NOTE:

| Grace Aneiza Ali | Sandra Brewster | Ingrid Griffith | Carl Hazlewood | Roshini Kempadoo | Nikki Khan |                   Yannick Lebrun | Keisha Scarville | Claude Stevens | Mason Richards |


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207983_166847730035923_125619950825368_340123_1926637_nFilmmaker Mason Richards Brings Guyana’s Stories to Global Audience

BY HAVELOCK NELSON 

Mason Richards’ short film, The Seawall, is the story of a young boy wrestling with leaving Guyana and his grandmother trying to convince him (and herself) that going to America will be to his benefit. Richards’ command of his craft combined with his talent as a storyteller is fully responsible for resurrecting a place I admittedly truly miss. The film reminds us that being uprooted from traditions means becoming changed in the transplantation.  

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The Guyana Issue. Cover. Carl HazlewoodRuminations by a ‘Foreign Guyanese’ Artist

BY CARL E. HAZLEWOOD 

There have been several occasions in recent years where I’ve been accused of being a ‘foreign Guyanese,’ that term being used deliberately to suggest, I felt, that I had no right to be involved with things I’d assumed was within my cultural sphere of interest as a ‘born’ Guyanese. As one might imagine, such encounters induced moments of extreme psychic dissonance for me. What was I? Who am I? Why do I feel such a responsibility to folks who seem so disinterested in whatever I had to offer? And what is the responsibility of that place and those people to me?

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Three Image-Makers Envision Home

BY NALINI MOHABIR 

Roshini Kempadoo, Keisha Scarville, and Sandra Brewster are women with roots in Guyana who currently reside outside of the country’s geographical borders, though not its imagined ones. Taken together, the work of these artists reflects the ghostly presences that linger over the concept of “home” for the Guyanese diaspora. And for all (formerly) colonized and racialized diasporas, home remains a very complicated project.  .   .

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Grace Ali Keeps Her Photos SafeGrace Ali Keeps Her Photos Safe

BY DIGITAL DIASPORA FAMILY REUNION

Grace Ali shares, “The life for an immigrant woman is not an easy one.” Cradling an image of her mother as a young woman, Ali continues, “I’m really fascinated by her, a hard working woman, committed to her family. She’s the one that has kept us together.” Additionally, some of the photographs that Ali shared take place at the airport, where families congregate, perhaps for the last time, to see their relatives follow their dreams to a new land.  . .

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lebrun_artistSlider-698x400Yannick Lebrun Finds “Home” In Alvin Ailey Dance

BY GRACE ANEZIA ALI

Yannick Lebrun’s story, of a  twenty-four year old native of French Guiana turned world-traveling Alvin Ailey dancer, is rooted in humble beginnings. His leap from studying dance at the Adaclam School in Cayenne (capital city of French Guiana) to carving out a place for himself in the award-winning Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is not a path frequently travelled. “For those from French Guiana. . .the possibilities for dance are few and far between,” he says. 

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.Claude-Stevens.3Claude Stevens’ Art for the People

BY CELESTE HAMILTON DENNIS

You can find him every day on the corner of the market entrance sandwiched between the currency exchange men. Women are on their way to the market to sell pink flip-flops or to buy freshly butchered chicken. Chutney music blares from dilapidated rum shops. Claude Stevens stands on a crowded and dirty corner looking for the man who said he’d come back on Tuesday to buy his coconut tree painting. Stevens waits in the midst of the raucous hustling and transient bustling—quiet, patient, stolid. . .   . . .

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Ingrid GriffithThe House on Hadfield Street

BY INGRID GRIFFITH 

I realized that the architecture of that house on Hadfield Street—its tight spaces and wary windows, mirrored the architecture of my childhood. Now, some thirty-seven years later, I returned to Guyana’s soil. That Easter Monday, I  joined the revelry in the National Park. It was a time when not only families and generations came together but cultures and religions as well. For me, it was a day I felt most free. With kite in hand, I was off and running. I felt the breeze coaxing it to the sky. It dipped and glided and began to climb. The kite tugged. I gave it more twine and watched it soar.

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The Girls Issue. Cover. Nikki KhanThe ‘Dream’ of School for Impoverished Girls, by Photojournalist Nikki Kahn

BY GRACE ANEIZA ALI

On the desolate salt pans of western India, as in much of the developing world, poverty and long-standing social customs bar many girls from attending school. The image is from The Washington Post photojournalism series, “For Impoverished Girls, School Is Just a Dream,” by Nikki Kahn, a photojournalist who followed the Patadia family on the salt pans of Little Rann of Kutch in India.

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GirlwithNotebookThe Girl with the Notebook

BY GRACE ANEIZA ALI

Notebooks may seem trivial when compared to the serious needs in Chaffe Jenetta like clean water, clinics, and paved roads. But they represent the freedom to dream, to create, and to imagine a future for oneself. For a little Ethiopian girl, her future begins within the pages of her notebook—just like my dreams began for me in Guyana. It was clear by the way she clung to her books, their pale blue covers tattered and torn, that what was written in them was of value. They were sacred to her.

 

 

 

 

 

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