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Melissa A Matthews
San Juan, Q
Neighborhood: Flatbush



ARTIST STATEMENT: As I write this, I am struck by the fact that my art is expat art. I was born and bred in Brooklyn, New York with a decidedly Trinidadian flair. As a first-generation American, I never felt fully American nor fully Trinidadian. When I lived in the U.S., my art and life were distinctly Trini. I was particularly interested in negotiating a space and life for myself that was innately tied to my West Indian culture and roots. My lens, my politics, my creativity—the three pillars of my work—were colored by being an outsider investigating the West Indian existence as an outlier of the diaspora. Three years ago, I moved to Trinidad & Tobago, having claimed my citizenship by descent and built a life here. I have never felt so American. My lens, my political interests, my creative pursuits are now incisively and purposely in tuned with my American-ness. Moreover, my identity as a Black American Woman living abroad and at home simultaneously. Wrestling with the hopelessness of these facts. As an expatriate with the luxury of two passports and two homes, the work that is presented in this portfolio investigates the maddening right to have an opinion on the goings-on from a plane ride away but the inherent inability to make "meaningful" change or have an impact apart from impassioned pleas on social media and two-week visits rallying behind those doing the "real" work. It is a commentary on the guilt of leaving mixed with the reverance of self-preservation that made me do so.
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