Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 13th 2014 Contents B3
the light in
of dance ---Page B4
Wendell Mc Shine, an award-
winning artist and animator whose
work has inspired and influenced
many young artists in T&T and the
international community, had actu-
ally given it up once.
For a few years, earlier in the cen-
tury, he stopped producing art.
He describes working in Trinidad
at the time as an illustrator, designing
Web sites, doing other forms of com-
mercial art and knowing it was not
compatible with his passion.
"I really didn t want to do com-
mercial art," he said during a recent
Skype interview. "I wanted to have
an avenue to freely express myself
without limits. Becoming a painter
was my true drive."
Mc Shine---AKA "Shine"---had
studied graphic design at the John
Donaldson Technical Institute,
worked as an illustrator for two
national newspapers, and Caribbean
Beat inflight magazine, to name a
At the time, it seemed the only
way for someone like him to earn a
sure living, he said.
"I feel more alive when I m in the
studio painting and creating, con-
necting with that higher force. That s
why I was, like, That s it; I m done
with compromising my compulsion.
So I gracefully, and with much grat-
itude, transitioned out of the world
of graphic design."
With uncertainty and disappoint-
ment looming, Mc Shine spent a
few years in New York bartending
just at the doorstep of his major life
change: moving to Mexico, his new
home away from home.
In Mexico, a place filled with deep
history, arts and culture all around
him, with the challenges of learning
a new language and finding a place
within the new, he was introduced
into the complex world of art and
"In Mexico everyone is an artist,"
he said. "I can t think of one artist
in Trinidad that I know of that s on
par with just a regular craftsman on
the street in Mexico.
"I m not comparing, but it is the
reality that almost 70 per cent of
things there are handmade and recy-
cled into an ambiguous form of
functionality. It seems like art sprung
up out of a necessity and that
engaged me in the most profound
"It s not even about talent there
anymore," he said. "It s about how
one expresses that inner conscious-
The Mexican environment led him
into himself, to cause a rebirth of
sorts for Mc Shine and the devel-
opment of his signature approach,
which references surrealism, indige-
nous codes and belief systems,
moulded with animation and urban
and contemporary art practices.
"Moving to Mexico made me into
what I am," he said. "That s the place
that actually started my career as
Mc Shine lived in Mexico City for
eight years, vigorously climbing his
way up, becoming a force within the
eclectic art scene there, exhibiting
regularly at major locations and being
the subject of print, broadcast inter-
views, seminars, documentaries, and
major international art projects.
His reputation spread out of Mex-
ico. Since then he s exhibited and
lectured in the US and Europe, in
museums such as the Kunsthal Kade
in the Netherlands, and been a guest
lecturer at art institutions such as
the Royal College of Arts in London.
In 2013 Mc Shine gave a dynamic
TED talk on "the power of your
ideas" at the Facebook headquarters
He had not completely abandoned
art while in New York. There he had
been playing around with an ani-
mation/visual effects programme
called After Effects, investigating his
abilities with animation and the
"You know how with callaloo you
just know how to make it? That s
what went on with me," he said of
his experience with animation. "I
see it as playtime and that s my
approach to any art making."
Marrying animation with fine
art---for instance, burying moving
images in the belly of a still piece
installation---is one of the things that
distinguishes Mc Shine s work.
On a visit to Trinidad in 2009, he
met Sheldon Holder of 12 The Band
and it led to Mc Shine doing the
animated video for 12 s song Prosper,
using images from a series of works
called La Puerta Abierta (The Open
Door), which he created in Mexico.
"We discovered Sheldon sings the
things that I paint about and I paint
the things that he sings," he said of
meeting Holder. "We became really
good friends, and we decided to just
make the video."
The video won the best use of
animation in a music video at the
T&T Animae Caribe Animation and
New Media Festival and has made
its way around the world on the
international film festival circuit.
Other Mc Shine shorts have won
Animae Caribe prizes: In 2010 his
Rainbow Hill won the award for the
best T&T short.
Regular participation in Animae
Caribe and implementing chapters
of the programme Art Connect are
some of the ways he s maintained
professional contact with T&T.
As the founder of Art Connect,
an international self-awareness art
programme geared towards stimu-
lating and inspiring the imagination,
he s passionate about empowering
a range of groups in society. One of
the chapters focused on marginal
youth and adults with learning dis-
abilities and won its way into the
prestigious Liverpool Biennial.
In the early days, youth from Point
Fortin were the participants in this
art project. Later on Success Laven-
tille Secondary School benefited
from Art Connect. (Local arts facil-
itator Charlotte Elias is producing
a documentary on the project.)
Wendell Mc Shine is gearing up
to launch another branch of his pro-
gramme in Miami, this time geared
towards healing adult men.
"Bringing this leg of Art Connect
to Trinidad is very important to me
because it is much needed in my
homeland," he said. "I am reaching
out to the public and private sectors
to join me in manifesting this
For now, he s settled with his wife
and three-year-old son in Miami,
Florida, going back into his inner
child, renewing and revolutionising
his creative force.
"The work I m putting out right
now is surprising me," he said. "I
can t wait for the world to see and
experience the evolution."
of Wendell Mc Shine
Wendell Mc Shine and his
three-year-old son Ali.
WENDELL MC SHINE
A detail of work in
Wendell Mc Shine.
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