Grantangi | Dank U Wel | Masha Danki | Thank You for making my Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellowship 1000% Successful!

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I have a problem with good byes. At the end of many travels, projects and even when I’ve moved, I’ve rarely brought real closure to whatever the situation it was that I from which I was moving on. Well, after spending the past year, conducting research in the Dutch Caribbean Diaspora, beginning in the Netherlands last year and ending my journey with a month-long tour through the Dutch Caribbean, it is imperative that I not say goodbye, but say hello, to what is sure to be one of the significant aspects of my life’s work. It’s not possible to thank everyone because it would necessitate that I write a dissertation for that. However, there are several key people that I must recognize in this moment to whom I am indebted for their contributions to my work.

Amsterdam/The Netherlands Acknowledgements

For starters, before I thank anyone, I have to express my sincerest gratitude to Sasha Dees and Open Ateliers Zuidoost for prompting my curiosity about the Dutch Caribbean in the first place. Prior to meeting Sasha, I had no interest NOR any concept of Dutch Caribbean. I didn’t even know that Black people were living in Amsterdam (smile…it’s true, but neither does probably 80% of African Americans that you meet so I don’t feel so bad). So thank you Sasha for exposing me to this marvelous world!  I’d like to thank The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, who supported my travels and research over the past year.
While in Amsterdam, I came in contact with a community that fully embraced me with open arms. There are WAY too many people to thank. My search for knowledge began there in Fall 2011. Since that time, you all became my international extended family, dear friends and part of my inner circle of light. There are few of you, however, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, friendship and camaraderie. I will not name you but you know who you are (and I don’t want to leave anyone out). Well, actually, I will – Charl Landvreugd, Egbert Alejandro Martina, Carl Haarnack, Nicole/Glynis Terborg, Patricia Kaersenhout, Faranú and Kno’Ledge Cesar, you have outdone yourself since I first touched down in Damsko two years ago. In addition, Ms. Ernestine Comvalius, Artwell Cain, Tanta Jetty Mathurin (and Eric Neslo and Mik),  Jennifer Tosch, Earl Longwood, Martijn Kerkmeijer, Arnold Lubbers, Christine Fischer, Patricia Schor, Daphne Kolader and Brett Russel, thank you for your friendship and support, especially with my research and with this Zwarte Piet Project! Mrs. Kim Garcia Meertins for trusting me with your perfect abode!  And the rest of my Dutch Art World/friends/colleagues – Misi Yaba, Judith Leysner, Silvia Martes, RaQuel van Haver, Iris Kensmill, Remy Jungerman, Jabu Arnold, Rob Perree, Stephanie Afrifa, Delano MacAndrew, Felix De Rooy, Cosimo Di Leo Ricatto, Dr. Adi Martis, Nancy Hoffman I appreciate all of the many ways, large and small, you have added to my overall experience; And my fellow creatives/cultural workers/community activists:  Joan Van Hees, Alaye Van Empel Aderemi, Maureen Healy, Bouba Dola, Esperanzah Denswill, Gabri Christa, Jeff Kroese, Sara Mattens, Ama Korenteng Kumi, Sabine Groenewegen, Heidi Lobato, Simone Zeefuik, Maarten van Hinte, Joelle Raus, Merhawi Dessi, Hodan Warsame, Seada Nourhussen, Bēylul Yosef-Ykeallo, Zihni Ozdil and Ruud Tevreden, THANK YOU.Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Doc Acknowledgements
Also, to my crew who are down for the cause and tackling this Zwarte Piet documentary with me – Shawn Peters, Raoul Popma, Brett (again) and Chanelle Pearson (for everything you’ve done to date). And to every single person who donated to the campaign, shared the link or reached out to me with tidbits and info, thank you! Now that I’m back, I’m strapping on my seat belt, shifting into second gear and getting ready for what is sure to be nothing short of a historic and exciting ride!Dutch Caribbean Acknowledgements

During my journey through the Dutch Caribbean, there are also several people that I must thank for making my trip over the past month BEYOND fruitful –  Donald Fela Ford for journeying with me and documenting one of the most important projects of my life to date. Who would have thunk that we’d be trekking across three countries and traveling by boat into the rainforest of South America several years ago when we first met? Not me homie, but thanks a mill! Artwell Cain and Holly Bynoe, thank you for connecting me with so many folks!ARUBA: Elvis Lopez at Atliers ’89 for being the absolute most fabulous Host with the Mostest! You my friend, are the opening act, the show and the after party! Thanks for introducing me to EVERYBODY that I needed to meet in Aruba – Mo Mohammad, Glenda Heylinger, Caresse Isings, The Matthew Brothers, the Staff of the National Archeological Museum Aruba. I’m SO coming back next year, and bringing a gang of bright eyed and bushy tailed artists with me, so I hope Aruba’s ready!
CURACAO: Lida Pandt, Richenel Ansano and Staff at the National Archeological Anthropological Memory Management;  Jeanne Henriquez and Su Girigori at Museo Tula, Roxanne Martha for her awesome P.R., Marcel Frans, Tirzo Martha, David Bade and everyone else at Instituto Buena Bista; Trina Pow and Hubby for taking me out; Lianne Leonora for your introductions; my girl Avantia Damberg for being such an awesome hostess of her country; the Ladies of New Day Morning Show for allowing me to be a special guest; my sis Silvia Martes – thank you for welcoming me into your family’s home, sharing your Grandma for a brief moment and exploring your beautiful island with me;  S/O to the illustrious Dr. Stephen Small! Thanks for your wonderful gift!
SURINAME: My sis from another set of a parents Jennifer Baarn, I will FOREVER be indebted to you. Seriously, I can’t ever repay you for your kindness, generosity, wisdom, advice, concern, encouragement and having ya girl’s back all the way from across the waters in the most eastern part of Mama Africa. I appreciate you and your family beyond words – my Uncle Pops and Gerley are the ABSOLUTE BEST. Thanks for opening up your family and your home. I take your charge seriously and promise to do our collective ancestors and people justice.Special thanks to NAKS! I wouldn’t have made 95% of the contacts that I needed without the time and energy expended by Tanta Siegmien Staphorst and the rest of the NAKS staff and family;  Marcel Pinas for being such a wonderful friend and warm ray of sunshine (+ welcoming us to Moengo:) and Abissa for our tour of the village there; Mr. Ramon MackNack for his time and energy and sharing a wealth of information about Winti; Kashmindra Vrede for leading me on that journey up the Suriname River into the Interior and your parents for being so sweet and for the fresh coconut water; my big bro Bryann Dijksteel for making sure that I got to every where I needed to go in one piece, and with some baka bana! LOL. (And for everything you else that you did for me that only a true big brother would do); Darell Geldrop for sharing so much about Winti culture and traditions as they are being carried out by a younger generation; the team at Readytex (Cassandra, Ada, Lyddia and Monique) for your THOROUGH break down of the contemporary art scene in SU; Mr. Rinaldo Klas and my friend Kurt Nahar for hosting me at Nola Hatterman Academy; my girl Dana Saxon just for being another Black American chick down for the cause and having a good time doing what we do!; Everyone who welcomed us at Pikin Slee especially Joney and Silvee; Nancy de Randamie for taking the time out to share info about the multi-disciplinary arts in SU; and last but not least the Veldman family for welcoming me with open arms and showing me one of the best times of my life!Anyway, I say all of that to say that this is not the end but only the beginning of what is shaping up to be part of my life’s work. Over the past decade, I’ve traveled to many places around the globe, many of which I’ve felt a connection. Of course anytime you go somewhere that reminds you of your home (in my case…New Orleans) in some kind of way or where you can see similar cultural threads, you’ll experience a bit of serendipity. However, from initial encounter with the daughters and sons of the Dutch Antilles and Suriname in the Netherlands, I’ve felt a sense of belonging and connectedness that’s difficult to explain. The more I learned and immersed myself in the art, history and culture of the Dutch Caribbean, I came to realize that this would not be a one time event or project, more like an ongoing exercise in discovery, sharing, growing and evolution. Many life changing experiences later – from my encounters with various parameters of race and racism in Europe, the adaptation of culture, political disagreements with associates, becoming engaged with an international movement of progress, and moving further in depth into a space where African traditions have persisted throughout and beyond modernity, I’ve founder a higher purpose for my work and calling. I am forever grateful for everyone who has opened up their minds, hearts, homes and histories to date. I’m even more thankful for all of the work that is yet to come.

In the names of Zora, Katherine and Pearl I move to the next phase of this journey to see where this road takes me.

In Love and Light,
2012-13 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellow

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