Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 23rd 2013 Contents B3
Q: How did the idea of Steupps come
A: I recently participated in an artist
residency at the Vermont Studio
Center in the US and the experience
was huge. I met people doing intuitive work
for the work s sake---work with no statement.
I started thinking about the relevance of
the work I was making and about the work
I wanted to do. What was the point of the
work? I soon felt like a pencil with no point.
Imagine a pencil in a circle. You can t sharpen
the pencil and you can t use it because it is
in a circle. I was asking myself: What work
should I do? What should I show? I don t
want to be making pretty, eat-ah-food work.
I realised the pointless thing was a body of
work in itself. The steups is the punctuation
mark at the end of that thinking process. The
steups is a release, a valve. The steups is daring
you to say you don t like the work. It is not
that I don t care but I am just releasing things.
Steupps is a presentation of what inside my
head looks like.
In daring people to respond to the work,
will you be making it possible for viewers
to give their feedback, for their steups to be
The interaction of the audience in the show
is important to me. I have not written an artist
statement. What I have is a posey, which I
call the artist statement. In it I have painted
many of the words we often find again and
again in what artists have to say about their
work: race, transnationalism, migration, iden-
tity, discourse, intervention and so on.
I don t feel I need to tell people what the
work is about. Viewers will be given Sharpies
[permanent marker pens] and cue cards and
I am providing another posey---a receptacle
into which I am asking people to put their
thoughts. I want the audience to take a look
at the whole exhibition and decide for them-
selves what the artist is attempting to say or
conjure, whether good, bad or indifferent.
You say that we can all become an artist
at your show. How so?
On the opening night, everyone gets a ban-
dana I have designed. People are asked to
follow the instructions on it and stand together
for a group photograph. In lieu of saying
"cheese," everyone will be asked to steups---
to steups in response to whatever they want
to, whether it is the exhibition they are in,
me, or the Government. The entire audience
will join in a performance and in doing so we
will create a work together. The photograph
will then be posted to Instagram, Facebook
I understand there will be free Wi-Fi at
the art gallery on the opening night and that
you are encouraging people to take pictures
at the exhibition and share them online with
the hashtags #rmrsteupps and #rmrmedulla.
What is the importance of social media in
your concept of this show?
Once upon a time you woke up, brushed
your teeth and bathed. Now you add Facebook
to that routine. Social media is a way of bring-
ing the audience into collaboration with me.
It is a means of engaging a wider audience
that is not actually in the art gallery.
I have also chosen to give my own spelling:
"steupps" with two Ps. We spell steups in dif-
ferent ways in the Caribbean. My spelling is
a way to more easily search, find and follow
my exhibition online.
You seem to be attempting to shake things
up in the way that art is displayed and expe-
I did not want to mount a show in the reg-
ular way. You can listen to people and do what
people want you to do or you can realise none
of that applies to you and you can create your
own playing field. I said the option is mine
to produce the show I want.
I am painting a giant steupsing mouth on
the wall of the art gallery and out of that
mouth I am arranging images in a sound wave
formation to suggest what a steups would
sound like. Again, I am daring you not to
accept the way I have presented the work or
to not accept how artworks are presented in
general. I am still experimenting in the way
I make and show work.
There is a diverse range of ideas being
expressed in this exhibition, from a painting
that tells young men to pull up their pants
before they come near your daughter, to
works that ask us to consider what is a seri-
ous artist. What is the glue that binds all of
these different pieces?
I am playing with scale and colour. I also
like the aesthetic of sign painting with lettering
that has odd spacing so I have incorporated
that. I am inspired by my memories.
What holds this work together? The answer
is the work comes from the same person, the
The art of the 'Steupps'
Richard Mark Rawlins' new body
of art is a call to press our
tongues against our teeth and
make a collective steups. In
Steupps, Rawlins' fifth solo
show, we get to see many facets
of his visual outputs. From large-
scale works on Euroboard (a
lightweight fibre panel), to 4x6-
inch images created on index
cards, bandanas for viewers to
wear and pursed lips painted in a
chamber pot---what we call a
posey in T&T---he presents us
with multitudinous thoughts and
a look into his brain which he
describes as one that is always
remixing ideas. In 2011 and 2012
he gave his attention to the
gesture of the meggie, that five-
finger sign used to mock and
poke fun at anyone, any time.
Now, in a related creative move,
he is playing with the steups as
a symbol that challenges
convention and questions life
around us. In this interview with
MARSHA PEARCE, Rawlins
gives insight into his exhibition,
which opens Wednesday at
Medulla Art Gallery.
Richard Mark Rawlins with his artist
statement, the Steupps posey.
PHOTOS: MARSHA PEARCE
A detail of Plenty Steupps, by Richard Mark Rawlins.
Richard Mark Rawlins' exhibition Steupps
runs through July 24 at Medulla Art Gallery,
37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook. Rawlins will give
an artist talk there on July 17 at 7 pm.
Info: 740-7597 or e-mail:
gets wild at
first solo exhibit
go to New York,
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