At 22, this Caribbean is using condoms to paint sexual abuse victims to raise awareness

November 27, 2019 at 02:30 pm | Art Attack, News

Ama Nunoo

Ama Nunoo | Staff Writer

November 27, 2019 at 02:30 pm | Art Attack, News

Nneka Jones creating one of her masterpieces, Photo: Newsday

For some Africans and Caribbean children deciding to take up a career in the creatives or even take it up as course to study in school, can sometimes drive a wedge between the child and their parents. Only a few lucky ones get the full backing of their family and Nneka Jones is one such lucky child.

The 22-year-old artist from Trinidad and Tobago took a chance to pursue her passion for art and it is paying off as her recent works are a mixture of contemporary portraiture fused with media artwork that have an embedded message pertaining to social issues, Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reports.

Jones has always come top of her art classes and with her family’s blessing she is a Bachelor of Fine Arts major with a Marketing minor at the University of Tampa, set to graduate in May 2020.

Photo: Trinidad & Tobago Guardian

Her feature on NowThis highlighted her pieces with over 300 condoms adhered to a canvass and hand embroidery that could pass off as oil painting to speak out against sex trafficking and rape. She intends for her pieces to lend a voice to the victims.

Touched by the stories of victims of abuse, her art series ‘Target’ zooms in on the plight of the victims she has intereacted with.

Speaking to TT Guardian, she said: “I am work­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly to develop a se­ries of art­works that fea­ture two bod­ies of work, ex­plor­ing differ­ent me­dia.”

“The se­ries em­pha­sizes the theme of ‘Tar­gets’ where I use sym­bol­ism and ma­te­ri­als to com­ment on so­cial and po­lit­i­cal in­jus­tices that ex­ist in so­ci­ety to­day.

“These ‘Tar­gets’ re­fer to vic­tims that have been abused sex­u­al­ly, men­tal­ly, phys­i­cal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly, et cetera.”

Jones’ intent for using condoms and embroidery thread are not for aesthetics. She deliberately uses the pieces to create textures that may not immediately bring out the materials used for the pieces.

“I also use embroidery thread to hand sew portraits of young girls who are usually the “target” for sex trafficking scams and other forms of sexual abuse, along with emotional and mental abuse.”

To finish the pieces, she assembles condoms in target signs, she then lets them dry then subsequently paints over them to unearth her message.

Depending on the emotions she wants to evoke from her viewers, she puts much thought in her choice of colors and also the subject she is portraying in the work, Newsday reports.

In the same way she intends for her artworks to make people pay closer attention to these social injustices by painting the ‘Targets’ – the manipulations are to make the viewer pay closer attention to the pieces before they come to realise the backdrop for the works are condoms.

‘Targets’ was developed with the help of her lecturer who challenged her entire class to think outside the box and look beyond paint for the works, Newsday reports.

Her initial works took about three weeks to complete but she admits to finishing the more recent ones using just about half the time.

The reason why Jones does what she does is to “raise awareness, to speak and to give life and attention where it is need­ed.”

Her goal is to make her pieces a communication tool for the victims. She also wants her works to be an avenue for interpreting, questioning and analysing the plight of these victims.

This might encourage others suffering in silence to boldly speak up to curb such crimes and save more lives. It’s also therapeutic for the victims as it will gradually help them reset their mental health.

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