Kareem Ferreira was born in Hamilton, Ontario. Ferreira works predominantly in the medium of acrylic painting, but includes different mixed medias, such as paper collage, graphite, and spray paint on wood panels. Ferreira completed his Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts at McMaster University in 2011, and will be finishing a Masters of Fine Art in 2020 from the University of Arizona. He has had shows in Hamilton, New York City, Tennessee, Utah, Phoenix, Winnipeg and Tucson in galleries such as DeFacto Gallery, Stienfeild Gallery, 623 ArtSpace, HAVN, Hamilton Conservatory of Art, Workers Art & Heritage Museum, and the Tucson Museum of Art.
Artist Statement (Latest):
As a first generation Canadian with strong Trinidadian roots, I grew up in two different, and often contrasting cultural milieus leading me to grapple with ambivalence in regards to my multiple identities. My practice grows from these concerns: a negotiation of my position enduring cultural divergence between displacement and indigeneity, divided, yet rooted in multiple places at once.
In an effort to shift the overly simplified perceptions that my two disparate familial communities hold toward the other, I offer visual re-creation of both identities, personal family traits, and events. The experiences and narratives that manifest in each work are the result of combining several vernacular photographs into a compositional arrangement that I later use as a mental reference when creating large scale painting on canvas. I select specific images of my family and community members at key moments, while focusing on portraiture and patterning to express my unsatisfied perception of my two homes.
Each painting is at least five feet in height and width and painted with acrylic on top of a heavily built-up ground of paper, cloth and discarded ephemera. The paintings display an accumulation and assemblage of disassociated objects motivated by my family’s compulsive repurposing of ordinary materials. I similarly repurpose these materials by incorporating them onto the surface of my paintings. In this process of building up the ground of each painting I am also using laser cut patterns in the heavier sheets of paper to infuse another layer of expression in the work. These patterns are taken from commercialized representations of the Caribbean and are meant to be easily identifiable, cliché and at times, sarcastic. After collaging, I continue to work the surface with spray paint and other drawing materials such as stabilo pencils and wax pigment sticks. To accompany these paintings I have been working on a series of portraits using the screen printing process. Similar to my painting, this methodology requires the images to be built up in layers. This screen print process will also be used to create customized “Caribbean patterns” that can be integrated into the paintings.
The social imaginaries placed on these non-indigenous patterns and textiles satisfy North American desires for a mental state of ‘island life’ characterized by ‘island dress’. Coded into the commercialized and mass produced patterns is a mechanism for psychological transport to the Caribbean, an unspecified fictional location whose primary purpose is to serve its visitors as a space of escape and entertainment. Caribbean, and specifically Trinidadian identities are flattened and stripped of their historically transcultural and transnational complexities. In my paintings, I explore the island imaginaries through a personification of repetitive flora and fauna patterning, which sits in contrast to the emotional sincerity I convey through the human figures and expressions. My reverence for my hybridized community is conveyed through my portraits of the black body as individuals or groupings, the family unit or community gathering to participate in the everyday reality of being ourselves.