March 2020 will be remembered by many Jamaicans as the month the COVID-19 virus was first detected on the island. In spite of the lasting economic, social and cultural legacy of the outbreak, March 2020 was a month of milestones for several other reasons. One such milestone was the launch, on […]‘Iyami Aje’ by Katrina Coombs: A Milestone Exhibition for Our Times — Blaqmango Consultants
Iyami Aje means ‘the womb of existence, my mother God’ in Yoruba. The term references the spirituality of woman and the seminal role played by women in all creative processes. This exhibition of new works features textiles and fibre pieces that reference the highly spiritual ancestral relationships that are central to understanding womanhood. Traditionally, textile and fibre techniques are used to communicate various symbols, values, mores and energies, as evidenced by the material culture of many indigenous groups around the world with a tradition of working with these materials. These traits are often transferred from generation to generation through the transference of spiritual energies and rites of passage. Katrina Coombs’ work is deeply rooted in the spiritual and regenerative resonance of the woman’s body as a vessel for cosmic powers and arcane secrets of creative biology. Iyami Aje therefore presents collectors, gallery owners, art enthusiasts, art patrons and other members of the art scene with a wholesome engagement into the spiritual nature and complexities of womanhood, which is quite fitting for International Women’s History Month, 2020.
Katrina Coombs works are inspired and guided by a quest to deepen the spiritual, emotional and psychological understanding of the numerous conflicting roles that have been attributed to women in contemporary society, especially by those who are closest to us. Through the use of fibrous material, her works explore the impact and intrusion of the ‘Other’ on the ‘I’. The ‘Other’ in representation of either an external or internal being to the self. Her works seek to provide a voice for woman’s spirituality in coexistence with her roles, her body, and her womb. The pieces on show address issues which are often considered taboo to speak of. These are framed within the psychological concept of the presence and absence of an Other. Often, the Other prevails and creates a structure and void of neurotic divergence. The female body, as a spiritual enterprise of the maternal structure, is a regulator of relationships with the Other. Her textile and fibre pieces’ function as symbols of spiritual connections to the ancestral realm of the woman, the daughter and the m’O’ther. Often autobiographical, Coombs’ works also investigates the role of the woman’s body as a sanctuary, a vessel and a portal through which energies pass and the ‘I’ becomes absent. The artworks on show here are manifestations of emotional celebrations and conflicts.
Katrina Coombs was born in St Andrew, Jamaica. She holds a BFA with Honours in Textiles and Fibre Arts (2008) and a Certificate in Curatorial Studies (2009) from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. In 2013, she obtained an MFA in Creative Practice from Transart Institute via The University of Plymouth. Coombs has a passion for fibre and an understanding of the sensitivity of threads and fabric, which she uses to bring forth unique designs and sculptural forms. Her practice focuses on the impact of the Other on the “I”, and the role and existence of the woman. She weaves and stitches fibres and textiles as ways of engaging the ambivalent and stigmatizing ways society engages the female persona. Coombs’ work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions in Kingston, Manila, Berlin, New York, Bogota, Miami, Chicago, and Washington. She lives and works in St. Andrew, Jamaica.
Exhibition continues until March 28, 2020
Gallery Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:00 – 8:00pm, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Gene Pearson Gallery, R Hotel, 2 Renfrew Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Photo credits: Female Design Council