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  • Writer's pictureSegolene Py

Gwladys Gambie aka Black Meisha, empowering feminity in the Caribbean

While discovering the incredible Mercosur Biennal, I came across a #Caribbean artists that really caught my eyes. Gwladys Gambie aka Black Meisha is a multi disciplinary artist from #Martinique living and working in Fort de France. Gambie passed her Master at the Campus Caribbéen des Arts in Martinique in 2014 and had exhibition in the Caribbean and America (Cuba, French Guiana, Miami, Aruba). #Performer, street artist, #sculptor and #illustrator, Gwladys Gambie explores the themes of femininity, the representation of women's body and the condition of Black women.

Gwladys Gambie develops a narrative around her subject matter. In her illustration and prints, she paints a character she created: Manman Chadwon, the free woman, free to express herself through her body and her speech. Inspired by the Creole tale of the goddess Manman D'Lo, goddess of the oceans, Manman Chadwon ('maman chardon' in French meaning mother thistle) breaks free from the clichés representations of the Caribbean black woman. The representation of Manman Chadwon is of a powerful and vulnerable woman who accepts her body and her sensuality. She is breaking from the #European standards of #beauty and trying to escape the beauty concept of the Caribbean society. Gambie usually draws the female body intertwined with Martinique ocean's flora elements: #urchin, coral, shells and algae, as she finds similarities between #nature and the human body. Sometimes, the character spits thistle as though she is spitting the truth - her truth - and she wears thistles as a means to show her strength. This strength is also pictured as a protection and a sign of liberation from the #colonial gaze.

As Black Meisha, Gambie mainly creates black and white prints. She draws curvy women, Black bodies, in sync with each and the surrounded with natural elements. Her illustration is really what drew me to her art with her black and white lines, showing men and women in a peaceful environment.

Her works is often accompanied with #Creole language, adding up to poetry as well as a specific iconography. Her works seems more genuine and addressing the local audience.

As a sculptor, she uses elements from the sea as well as beauty products and accessories. Using hair, pearls, fake nails, Gambie central subject of the concept of beauty is questioned again here. These medium are also a representation of her culture.

Gwlady Gambie makes her immovable creation comes to live when she performs. Parading in the street or posing in her costumes creations, she creates a new world and a new character: 'Moko Chadwon' (2018), from the term 'moko jumbi' from Central Africa, moko meaning healer and jumbi ghost or spirit. This term is also used to described stilts walkers during Trinidad's carnival. When Manman expresses herself, Moko is there to ease her pain/wounds.

With 'To meet a beautiful monster' in 2017 she questions again the concept of beauty parading in the streets of Fort-de-France with a costume of indescribable creature with spikes coming out of it and a heart that seems to be bleeding.

Gwladys Gambie uses her knowledge, culture and beliefs from the Caribbean countries in her work. She celebrates Black women in all their shapes and creates another world inspired by Caribbean and African culture. The artist takes great pain to empower women through the clichés applied to them.

Her latest exhibition happened at the Tropique Atrium, Fort de France (Martinique), entitled "Métamorphoses" (Metamorphosis) earlier this year.



Gwladys Gambie

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