Return to Love. Oil on Canvas. 36X36
Dr. Desirée Cox Art
In the early stages of deciding what my palette would be, I was influenced by the Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky’s revolutionary connection of music and color. He employed a practice of synesthesia, or a blending of the senses, to create a new reality in his art. Every color was associated with a specific musical note; certain textures were correlated to certain sounds. To Kandinsky, a single color – in his case, blue – could awaken an overwhelming artistic pinnacle of emotion, connectedness and spirituality. I was so inspired by his approach that I decided I would restrict my color palette to a limited selection of chords. I called them the “Junkanoo Color Chords.”
Junkanoo is a cultural street festival that has existed for several centuries in the Bahamas, my place of birth. All types of people – lawyers, judges, doctors, artists – gather in Junkanoo shacks, leaving whatever they are in life at the door. Together, they design a costume from specific color combinations and present it in a public dance on Bay Street, with drums, horns and cowbells. Then, at the end of the festival, the costume is destroyed.
There was something about the ancestral connection to the color combinations of Junkanoo that I wanted to bring into my artistic practice. It was a very conscious and significant decision on my part. I believe a core part of the creative process is figuring out whether you’re drawing inspiration from the inside out or the outside in. My work is very palpably linked to something outside myself – whether it’s ancestral, metaphysical, or connected in some way to my geographical environment. I decided that after experiencing Junkanoo firsthand, I would only use the color combinations of the costumes as my color chords, expressing them through oil on canvas.