Young Bahamian artist Jeffrey Merris answers this week’s 20 Questions from Guardian Arts&Culture. Jeffrey recently won the Central Bank Art Competition and is currently studying at Tyler School of Art, Temple University in the U.S.
1. What’s been your most inspirational moment in the last five years? My work being described by two of my professors as “lame” last semester at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. My daily planner's cover is painted "I will not make lame Art". Thus far, it is going beautifully.
2. What’s your least favorite piece of artwork? Pablo Picasso's “The Bull Series”.
3. What’s your favorite period of art history? Russian constructivism.
4. What are your top 5 movies of all time? “Radiant Child”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Bamboozled” - I love Spike Lee - Jacques Tati's film “Playtime” and “Madeline”.
5. Coffee or tea? Definitely tea.
6. What book are you reading now? Christian Campbell's “Running The Dusk” (sad that I am just reading this).
7. What project are you working on now? I am working on a piece for The Andrew Freedman Gallery in The Bronx, a partnership with the Bronx Museum opening on October 18. It’s my first international show. Then a collaboration with Pedro Reyes at The Queen’s Museum in New York in late November – in his project pun – where I will represent The Bahamas.
8. What’s the last show that surprised you? Wanghee Mutz: A Fantastic Journey, Brooklyn Museum.
9. Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots? Warriors!!
10. If you had to be stranded on one Family Island which one would it be? Long Island.
11. What’s the most memorable artwork you’ve ever seen? Bruce Nausean sound installation in The Museum of Modern Art in New York: Days. I am actually taking an advanced sculpture class in sound to better understand and appreciate the significance of sound because of this piece.
12. Which artist do you have a secret crush on? Jean Michel Basquiat. Well there is nothing secret about that. He's amazing!
13. If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be? David Hammons.
14. Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country’s history? Jackson Burnside III. Never before has someone spoken and acted at the same time with pure fire in relation to arts and culture.
15. Who is your favorite living artist? Thraster Gates, I met him at Uppent last semester. Looking forward to collaborating with him in the near future.
16. Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise.
17. What role does the artist have in society? We are the innovators. It's our job to play that critical role of being the voice of reason and change. Berlin Datism, Russian constructivism, surrealism, American Art on the Left and many art movements have shown us that art is a powerful force and instrument of change. At the same time, I will not reject the voice of art as being a social institution of criticism or glorification.
18. What’s your most embarrassing moment? Over compensation.
19. What wouldn’t you do without? Cold Kaliks.
20. What’s your definition of beauty? Beauty is the ability to convey a certain sentiment of purity or wholesomeness.
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