Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery celebrates Caribbean culture and music

Arthur Rogers’ work is part of the exhibit “The Mas Between Us” at Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery starting June 25.

Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery will open the exhibit “The Mas Between Us” as part of the Caribbean Heritage Month observance.

The collaborative exhibit, which starts June 25 in the new Visual and Performing Arts Center, will feature photographs and works of art by Joanne Rogers and her husband Arthur. Together, the couple has created a captivating and colorful collection that highlights the culture and tradition of Caribbean life.

“This exhibition started out with my husband Arthur Rogers, a painter and also a feature in the collection. He often paints Carnival. I started taking photos of him for his events and he painted from those photos. This exhibit is like a second coming from that,” said Joanne. “We’re putting this exhibit up because the Charlotte Caribbean Festival Association is hosting a parade that will be starting and ending at the gallery. We decided to put up some of our work in the building to add to the experience going on outside.”

Carnival is known for its lively music and colorful costumes. The Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago, which inspired the exhibition was inspired, has origins dating back to the 18th century when the French brought their own tradition of masquerade balls to the area. African slaves were forbidden to attend, so they held their own parties in secret and wore costumes meant to mock the French, leading to the creation of “Mas,” a term used to describe the Carnival costumes of the present day.

The actual Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago includes parades, dancing, and vibrant music called Soca. It takes place every year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

“It’s a celebration. What inspires me most is the music. Soca is the soundtrack for Carnival and it builds anticipation for the event all year long. It’s a genre of music that I am passionate about,” said Arthur. “For me, painting is the only way I can figure out how to share my passion for the music with everybody else because I’m not a singer or a performer. I tied the imagery to the music and the imagery closest to the music is Carnival.”

Joanne Rogers, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, became a self-taught photographer after receiving her first camera in high school. In 2011, Arthur gifted Joanne a new camera and she began photographing her family, particularly her grandsons. Eventually, friends started asking her to cover events.

Today, Joanne is owner and curator of Nine Eighteen Nine and staff photographer for the Mint Museum, where she takes reference photos for artists.

Arthur Rogers is a native of North Carolina with roots in Sint Eustatius and Trinidad as well. He is executive director of the Visual and Performing Arts Center, a resident artist, and represented by Nine Eighteen Nine. He has held positions with several design firms, advertising agencies, and was a college instructor. He has skillsets in several areas, including graphic and web design, videography, photography, and painting.

The Carnival paintings featured are newly returned from another art exhibition at the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center in Virginia. The four-person exhibit “Soul Finger Project” showcased work influenced by contemporary Black culture that traces roots back to North Africa and the Caribbean. “The Soul Finger Project” is coming to Charlotte in August with several pieces of art available for purchase.

“Carnival is a celebration of life. People prepare and train all year long for this singular event,” Arthur said. “The event is not necessarily just Carnival, it is to celebrate life and to be happy, and so that’s what I’m hoping people take away from this.”

Nine Eighteen Nine Gallery is open to the public from 11 am-3 pm on Tuesday-Friday or by appointment. “The Mas Between Us” will run until July 5 with a closing reception at 7:00 pm that day. The Uptown Carnival Parade takes place on June 25 at 11 am and ends at the Visual and Performing Arts Center on Tryon Street.


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