Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2013 Contents September 1, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
By Bavina Sookdeo
Indeed, the above statement perfectly describes what Danielle Boodoo-For-
tuné has been doing. She is a talented young woman who has been drawing
and painting from the depths of her soul all her life.
Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own na-
ture into his pictures. ~Henry Ward Beecher
The full time artist and writer together with
her husband produce a line of handmade art-in-
spired items under the name 'Wildflower Studio'.
The 27-year-old artist related to WomanWise
how she fell in love with her craft. "I've been
drawing and painting all my life, but only doing so
professionally for about three years, but some of
my favourite childhood memories are of me lying
on a huge sheet of newsprint, drawing pictures
and writing poems, dreaming and getting lost in
it. Art has always felt like second nature to me.
Painting, drawing and writing have always been
more of a need than a conscious decision, some-
thing I have to do in order to survive. About three
years ago, I decided to devote myself more fully
to a creative life. It seemed like the natural thing
to do at that point in time."
She then related what art means to her. "It's a
second language. For someone like me, someone
naturally quiet, it's a different way to speak and to
be heard. It's both a mirror I hold up to myself and
a window I look through. It's as necessary as
Boodoo-Fortuné, who has done many pieces,
was awarded the 2012 Small Axe Poetry Prize
and has also been nominated for Best New Poets
2013. Asked about her favourite piece, the
sprightly young artist said, "My favourite piece
keeps changing depending on where I am in
terms of energy. At the moment, my favourites
are 'Criatura' and 'Goddess of Growing Things'.
Both are filled with a kind of bravery and earthi-
ness that I love."
So from where does her inspiration come?
Posed with this question, Boodoo-Fortuné simply
replied, "I've always been inspired by the women I
know, and who I come across in my day to day liv-
ing. I'm also very much inspired by the local land-
scape. I'm always exploring the connections
between the two, and the ways in which nature
might symbolise the self as woman."
While many may think that being an artist here
is not very lucrative, the young artist does not
think so. She told WomanWise, "I haven't experi-
enced it to be a struggle, truly. It isn't always easy,
but nothing is. No measure of success comes
without work and dedication. I have to admit that
I did expect it to be more difficult than it actually
was. When I just got started, a few well-meaning
friends and family members tried to caution me
against pursuing art full time, but I have to say
that the blessings have always outweighed the
difficulties. I believe that if work comes from your
heart, from the truthful parts of you, then it will
reach out to others and find its way in the world.
This has been true for me. Many beautiful oppor-
tunities have come my way, and for that I am
grateful, and extremely inspired."
When asked if she sees being a full time artist
as a viable source of income here in Trinidad and
Tobago, the young woman (who has also studied
Literatures in English at the University of the
West Indies), insisted "I do, but I believe it de-
pends on the individual. It takes a lot of commit-
ment, as all things do."
The Sangre Grande resident has recently com-
pleted her first solo exhibition, 'Criatura'. Held at
the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago from June
29th to July 5th, Boodoo-Fortuné had work fea-
tured in 'Music is the Soul', an exhibition held at
Brockton Collective in Toronto, Canada. However,
her recognition does not end here. Soon, she will
have work featured in 'The Femail Project' to be
held in Birmingham, UK.
Does this artist think enough is being done in
schools to encourage students to become
"I think for art to be encouraged in any sub-
stantial way, it has to be first appreciated and ac-
knowledged as something truly valuable. I've met
so many wonderful young people who are pas-
sionate about art, but who are discouraged from
pursuing it, and who have been made to feel as
though they must be apologetic about the thing
they love, that it must be relegated to a side
hobby, or outgrown like a childish habit. It is no
small thing, for the young people in a society
to be able to create art from their own expe-
riences. I find it an incredibly powerful
thing. Through this we might be able to
look at ourselves in an entirely different
way. It really has such vast potential for
selfhood, healing and growth, on per-
sonal and national levels."
The determined artist may spend
weeks to create a masterpiece or she
may work obsessively all day and night
to complete one. Still, the comments
she receives are usually all the same --
all heart-melting. Boodoo-Fortuné dis-
closed to WomanWise "I have heard so
many wonderful things, and it provides
so much food for my heart. During the
exhibition, I received a lot of lovely
feedback from girls and young women
who felt a sense of kinship with the
pieces. That was one of the highlights
of the experience, for me. A few peo-
ple told me that they felt a certain
piece looked like them, or like a loved
one, which I thought was beautiful
and powerful. Others spoke about
feeling a more intimate, spiritual kind
of connection. I also got comments
from people who enjoyed the lines,
shapes and brightness of the work."
So what are Boodoo-Fortuné's fu-
ture plans? She disclosed, "To keep
pushing, thinking, and growing and
to see where the journey takes me."
For her success thus far, the
young artist wished to thank her
husband, Reynold Kevin Hackshaw.
Of him she lovingly said, "He has been
such an incredible source of strength
and support in work, in life, and every-
thing in between."
So, if she could offer the youth one
bit of advice what would it be? "Follow
that inner voice," she encourages. "It
seems incredibly simple and perhaps cliché,
but the living of it is far more difficult than the
saying of it," the artist explained.
"It requires a certain kind of boldness and faith
that is not for the faint of heart. It challenges you
to be braver, to be more truthful. If there is some-
thing in you that speaks, or emerges on paper or
in song or in any form, then you must give voice
to it. Follow it, because you will never feel truly
fulfilled if you don't."
For more information on Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné visit: http://danielleboodoofortune.com
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