This week Grand Bahama-based artist Claudette Dean answers 20 questions from Guardian Arts&Culture.
1. What’s been your most inspirational moment in the last five years? It would have to be when I did a live performance art piece in front of a group that was gathered to explore the concept of “Boundaries”. The performance had a profound effect on me and I believe the group as well. It was later to become the basis for “Resurrection”, the performance art video that I presented at NE6.
2. What’s your least favorite piece of artwork? Any artwork that leaves me cold both mentally and emotionally.
3. What’s your favorite period of art history? As a student of French literature, I loved the literature of “La Belle Époque” in Paris. It included writers such as Emile Zola and poets Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud, to name my favorites. As an artist, it is also my favorite period of art history featuring artists such as Odilon Redon, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri Rousseau. I also love the art nouveau influence on the architecture of the time.
4. What are your top five movies of all time? I am a real movie buff, some of my favorites range from The wizard of Oz to Pulp Fiction. So to best answer your question, here are five of the movies that I have watched at least twice and would watch again: The Empire of the Sun, The English Patient, The Green Mile, The Color Purple and The Joy Luck Club.
5. Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning and mint tea at night.
6. What book are you reading now? I’m completely focused on some work that I am doing now so I’m not reading any book from front to back. Every morning though, I do read from a book called The Silence of the Heart by Paul Ferrini.
7. What project are you working on now? I’m working on a body of work for a solo exhibition to be shown at Hillside House in February 2014. I’m also working on an idea for a proposal for Transforming Spaces 2014 Water.
8. What’s the last show that surprised you? I was really blown away by what the COB students have been producing for the Transforming Spaces art tour - 2012’s Fibre stands out in particular.
9. Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots? The very first Junkanoo I saw in Nassau was New Year’s 1980 while on my honeymoon! The Saxons made a huge impression on me, especially their drum section, and I must admit that I have had a soft spot for them ever since.
10. If you had to be stranded on one Family Island, which one would it be? First choice Grand Bahama but if it had to be somewhere other than home I’d pick Harbour Island.
11. What’s the most memorable artwork you’ve ever seen? I had to brush away tears while standing in front of Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica. What a masterpiece! As an artist and a mother, it had a powerful emotional effect on me.
12. Which artist do you have a secret crush on? Hmmm…does Marvin Gaye still count?!
13. If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be? My father. I was totally a daddy’s girl and he died when I was only 17.
14. Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country’s history? No man is an island so it is impossible to single out any one person.
15. Who is your favorite living artist? I am not as well versed as I should be in this department but I find Anish Kapoor’s work awe-inspiring.
16. Sunrise or sunset? Sunset. Dusk is actually my favorite time of day. The light is so ethereal then that I find it very easy to get out of my thoughts and just breathe in the beauty of it all.
17. What role does the artist have in society? To express and to share his or her own unique voice to the very best of his or her ability.
18. What’s your most embarrassing moment? I went out one night with my husband to a very large party at one of the then very hot nightclubs in Freeport. We were there a good couple of hours when, while on the dance floor, I happened to look down. I was wearing not only two different shoes but one was tan and one was black! Before going out I had tried on one of each to see which was more comfortable, I must have been distracted and ended up going out just like that!
19. What wouldn’t you do without? Freedom, nature, family and friends.
20. What’s your definition of beauty? Beauty is that which stirs the heart.
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