by Kyana Gordon
Sips of rum punch, luxurious private villas and postcard-perfect white sand beaches are reasons many vacationers flock to the Caribbean. Holly Bynoe and Nadia Huggins, two ambitious women from the chain of glittering islands known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, are working to subvert that stereotypical perception with their sophisticated arts and culture publication, ARC Magazine.
"Debunking stereotypes has been a formal concern and one of the key objectives of ARC," says Bynoe, the magazine's editor-in-chief. "It is troubling to understand that the entire tourism industry is set up to avoid the real complexities of the Caribbean." Bynoe says foreigners often have reductive assumptions of Caribbean-made arts and culture. The earnest efforts of Bynoe and Huggins reveal something much deeper than exported tropical ideals. The publication presents a downright honest discourse of what's currently happening in the region through the lens of emerging and established visual artists.
For ARC (which stands for art, recognition and culture), 2011 was the year an idea became reality. Through the nascent stages of development it took on various forms—first a blog, then a website, with a special printed issue emerging in January of 2011 as a quarterly and currently it stands as an online and bi-annual print magazine. Over the last two years, they realized that their efforts needed to be more centralized and efficient in order to support various initiatives. The website has become a dynamic platform for building revenue through various advertorials designed individually for the company, individual or initiative supported.
Huggins, a photographer and the magazine's creative director, looks back on ARC's impact on the region's creative community saying, "The most obvious thing we have noticed since the conception of ARC up to now is the conversations that have been happening between artists from across the entire Caribbean and the diaspora," she says, "We emerged at the right time and filled a gap that most creatives in the region didn’t realize needed to be filled or didn’t quite know how it would manifest."
The magazine evokes a curious excitement with its stunning covers, slick matte pages, polished writing and compelling profiles. Selection is based upon who can best articulate ideas around their process, practice and those that want to experiment with language and form. Thanks to ARC we discovered Brianna McCarthy, a Trinidadian mixed-media artist with a body of work that paints a distinct portrayal of Afro-Caribbean women—one of expressive, emotional depth which she believes, for the most part, "is non-existent in the recorded cultures of the Caribbean landscape."
Another ARC feature profiled Jamaican metalsmith and jeweler Jasmine Thomas Girvan and her collection "Gardening in the Tropics," which deeply explores Caribbean literature, storytelling and mythology. If not already familiar with Caribbean art, ARC will more than acquaint you with a who's who of artistic makers from almost every island in the Caribbean.
With loads of collaborative projects and curatorial investigations under their belt from an Issue 1 launch at the International Center of Photography, a partnership with the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival curating the new media portion and most recently exhibiting work at Volta NY, the future shines bright for ARC. They are looking to grow through strategic alliances internationally and with regional governments, but the immediate focus is preparing for the launch of Issue 7 and a website redesign. Huggins says the longterm goal is to connect Caribbean artists with the world, whereby ARC will become a platform for regional artists to gain international exposure. Ambitious and relevant, ARC will definitely have locals investigating their surroundings in a new way and the world outside of the Caribbean excited to learn more about its rich cultural heritage.
Images courtesy of ARC Magazine