Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why Red & Black ?

Some of you might have noticed that throughout my website, red and black is a prominent theme. I wanted to explain why that is but I realized that in order for me to truly convey the significance of what these colours mean to me, I would have to start from the beginning. The very beginning. Before art was even on my radar.

Early Years (Age 0 – 10)

Growing up in Barbados, like any child at that time, my mom made sure I went to church and attended Sunday school. I knew the basics, Jesus loves me, He healed the sick, fed the poor and died for our sins. I was to follow the 10 commandments and be a good person. In reality, I believe I was more so a Christian because it was how I was raised therefore it was all I knew; plus living under my mom’s roof, it was that way or the highway. I had no choice but to love Jesus, lol.
I was never really into art per say but my father, uncle and cousin were. And because I wanted to fit in, I learned to draw but it always felt a little difficult to me because they were so good and I wasn’t. I remember one realistic drawing that either my dad or uncle did. It was of Jesus’ head with a crown of thorns. That image is forever etched in my brain because as a child, I thought that it didn’t get much better than this. This is too perfect like real life. I can never be this good. It’s impossible.
As the years progressed, I messed around here and there with art and comic characters, drawing ninja turtles etc. but at the heart of it all, I wanted to be a business owner like my father. At the time, he was always the manager at some store and as time went on he eventually owned his own franchise. So that’s where my heart was, to make money and be successful like my father. At school I was always ranked one of the best when it came to drawing. There would always be competitions of one upmanship among the top three artists and myself. One of whom was my best friend at the time, “WHAT UP ANDRE?!”. But again, art was just something I had a talent for but nothing I took seriously, I just did it for the recognition and accolades.
Then around the age of 8 or 9, I would say that things started to get funky in my life. I was already the child of a broken marriage but my mother always pulled double duty to make sure I didn’t feel the absence of my father’s presence. I can honestly say, she loved / loves me TOO much. She never wanted me to experience hurt or pain and as a result I was very sheltered and over protected. But her heart was pure and she did it for the best of me. But that didn’t stop the fact that at that age I could sense that things felt abnormal. It started with the skin condition called vitiligo and just how the whole atmosphere of my life felt wrong. I didn’t know how to fix things, neither did my mother. We would just live life one day at a time and believe for the best. She would trust in God and I would trust in her.

The Call (Age 10 - 11)

Around age 10, things started getting really bad. Constant nightmares, feelings of fear, depression and sadness. Not to mention the fact that I missed my father a lot. He was always “busy” being an entrepreneur, whether legit or not, it was to be expected from divorced parents. Interaction would have been awkward I guess. One day I was in church, not because I wanted to be but because it was Sunday and that’s what you do in the Caribbean, you go to church on Sundays. And also it was my mom’s house, so her rules. If given the option, I was good on that. I could stay home and play Nintendo all day, like a BAWSE! Lol.
But I distinctly remember the sermon being boring and I tilted by head back and looked at the roof and all of sudden I had a vision; I saw my future. My wife, my kids, and the reason why I was created. God told me that He brought me into the earth to use art to minister to and to bring change to my generation. To summarise, He told me it would be art of a different breed and to expect great things. After the vision ended, I became aware of my reality of being back in the boring church service. At that point, I wasn’t aware it was a vision, I just thought it was a very elaborate day dream. None the less, I decided to share it with my mom to see if there was more to it than I thought. Immediately she recognized it was a vision from God and told me we need to follow what God said. Please bear in mind, I had no intentions of being an artist for a living, I wanted to go where the money was and that was being a store owner like my dad. But I was raised to always obey God because He knows best and if you want the best in life, that is what you do. I recently asked my mother, why she believed what I told her was from God and not just my child like imagination? She told me the things I told her were far beyond my cognition at that age and it had to have been divinely given.
So I started to take art more seriously but at the same time the nightmares and oppression in my life kept going from bad to worse. I didn’t know how to make it stop. Truth be told, I had somewhat grown used to it and accepted it as life because I knew no other way. Even though it felt bad, even though intrinsically I knew there had to be better. I accepted it. Then one day at church there was an impromptu deliverance service and as the pastor prayed for us, God showed him by the spirit that via witchcraft someone had released hordes of demons to torment us. Then during that prayer I had a vision of my own and God showed me our house being surrounded by encroaching demons. Then as the pastor prayed that we be delivered, I saw them disperse and disappear. It was at that moment I knew Jesus was real. You can know of someone your whole life but until you have an experience and interaction with them, you will not have an intimate knowledge of them being REAL.
It was at that point, at age 11, I decided to take my Christianity seriously. If I was that important for the devil to try to kill me, then what God showed me MUST equally be as important. I wish I could tell you that from that night the demonic harassment stopped and life was great after that prayer. NOPE! When I decided to take my walk seriously, I instantly had a bulls eye on me for different reasons. Before it was for the fun of tormenting a child, now it was for the purpose of aborting destiny. My determined decision to be a REAL Christian thrust me from the frying pan into the fire.

Bootcamp (Age 11 - 16)

The presence of demons had reached a point in my life where there were visitations every night. It was so bad, that I had a ritual every night before I went to bed. I would make sure every light in the house, which lead a path to my bedroom, was on. And as I progressed closer and closer to my room I would systematically turn each light off. Then as I reached my bedroom door, I would anoint the door posts with anointing oil in the shape of a cross. Place Psalm 91 at the foot of my door, pull back the bed covers and turn on the fan. NOW this is where the fun begins. I knew when I turned off my bedroom light, is when it would get real. So in one motion, I had to turn off the light and seamlessly dive under my covers and pull it over my head. Why did I have to dive under the covers and pull it over my head? So I wouldn’t see the demons rising from the shadows in the corner of my room. Why did I have to have the fan on? So I wouldn’t hear the demons whispering and feel them breathing on my neck. I would convince myself that it was just the wind from the fan. Why was it imperative that I be under the covers as the fan blew on me? So that I could tell myself that it was just the wind of the fan moving the sheets and not demons touching me.
Because I knew what I was experiencing was real, I had to use logic to trick my mind into believing all these rational placebos and buffer zones I had setup. Then as I lay in the midst of these night terrors, I had to pray. Pray that I make it to the morning.
Then during the summer, my mom decided that we would wake up at 5am to have Bible study. Excuse me? You do realize that is summer vacation and at 5am angels are still sleeping right? But this was her law, so let it be written, so let it be done. As much as I hated those 5am Bible studies, I grew exponentially because of them. I learned about spiritual warfare and actually using scriptures as weapons, I learnt how my words carried weight and that what I said, determined what I received (Prov 18:21). Spiritually I was more mature than my peers. It was to the point that I would sit in on adult Sunday school because Jesus fed the 5000 wasn’t cutting it for me. I was now well equipped to deal with the spirits that tormented me. One by one, my placebos and buffer zones were laid to rest. Until it reached the point, where I embraced the darkness. I was no longer the recipient of terror but the harbinger of it. I no longer feared but I was to be feared.

God and Art (Age 16 -18)

Up until this point my spirituality and artistic style grew somewhat hand in hand. But the majority of my focus was on growing in God. Now I came to the point in my life where I was like “Ok God, you gave me this calling, now what do I do with it?” The first thing that comes to mind as being a Christian artist is that you have to draw biblical characters only. But knowing me, that was going to get old really quick. There’s only but so many times I can draw Jesus with sheep. Plus, I was used to drawing fantastic comic characters and emulating what I saw from Marvel / DC etc. I had a talk with my mom about what I should do and she told me “Being a Christian artist doesn’t mean you only draw Moses or biblical characters, it means you create by the spirit of God. God will give you the inspiration.” The words were from her mouth but the message was from God.

At that point I decided to blaze my own trail, I would intentionally be different and be in a league of my own. I began to saturate everything I produced in prayer and would ask God to help me create. And as I did that, I found that God would subvert my preset routines of illustration. He would say why not try this or why not put this there or why not use this colour instead. As a result, this divine inspiration put me at the top of my classes artistically. I knew that I was the best, not because I was bragging but because it was just what it was. I was apprentice to creator of the universe, the apex artist. Being the best was simply the byproduct of such association.

My art style became very vibrant in colour and aggressive in brush strokes. What you saw on the canvas was a mirror image of what was going on inside of me. Spirituality was always intertwined in some form in my work. That’s why a self-portrait was never the status quo, you would always see the spiritual overflowing into the natural.

"self portrait"
 11" x 37"
acrylic on canvas

The above painting illustrates me being consumed by the fire of God and the power of the Holy Ghost shooting out of my eyes. The painting beneath depicts me in a state of spiritual amok, intimidating the enemy.


 37" x 52"

acrylic on canvas

It could be said that my use of colour was as a result of cultural influence, to some degree it might have been. The Caribbean is a colourful place.

But for me, using colour in it’s purest form without diluting or amalgamating it with another colour spoke immensely of the importance of remaining an unadulterated, individual while being able to work corporately in performing a unified task. For me the juxtapositioning of vivid colours travelling on the backs of aggressive brush strokes was a direct assault on the kingdom of darkness as each colour was applied.
The more I grew in my relationship with God, the more established I became in my artistic identity. What you saw on the outside was who I was on the inside. My work took on a terrifying persona because I had to become that much more formidable to the forces of darkness that were attacking me on a daily basis. My expressions and interpretations of God were directly based upon the relationship I had with Him. While most knew Him as a father or love, I knew Him as a warrior and as such that was the facet of Him I portrayed. We must remember, we perceive people based on the relationship we have with them. It doesn’t mean that it’s a different person, it’s just a different side of them. For example, the way you know the president is different from the way his kids know him. You know him as commander in chief, they know him as dad. Even the way his wife knows him is different than how the kids do. So this is the side of God I know, it grew out of a necessity to survive, it was cultivated out of the pursuit of destiny.

Coming to America (Age 18-21)

After graduating from Barbados Community College with an associates degree in Fine Art, I came to the Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sequential Art. I then moved to South Carolina to be with my mom. While I was here, I attended the local church she was a part of and was embraced with open arms. Everybody loved me. I was very focused and serious about my walk with God and my art. Given what I had been through in my life up to that point, I was very goal oriented and destiny fueled. My desire, walk and worship of God was equally pure as it was intense. And because of that I was misunderstood in some aspects. Remember the analogy I gave with the president. Many people don’t know the side of God that I do, so when it is displayed it can be taken the wrong way. “That looks demonic”, “That art does not look like God”, “It looks like the work of a murderer”. It never bothered me because I knew they didn’t have the same revelation of God as I did and I know it takes different parts to complete the body of Christ. It’s ok if all you’ve known was the heart, just don’t be put off when an arm arrives.

In the process of attending the church I befriended a young lady and we fell in love. It was beautiful. This is where things get interesting.

Fade to Black (Age 22-23)

Up to this point I was well loved, respected and received by everyone. We can’t control who we fall in love with, neither can a person choose their family. The problem was my heart decided to fall in love with a woman who lived at home with an overly controlling mother. Her mother loved me and approved of me dating her daughter, until her daughter started using her own brain and being an individual. Just so you understand the level of control the mother had over the household; she had to ask her mother if she could have permission to go outside. “You’re how old?”

Love will make you do “stupid” things. And her stupid thing, was going out of her way to spend time with me, “disobeying” her mother and making adult decisions. We could hardly enjoy a date together as her mom would set ridiculous curfews and would always call to see what we were doing and sometimes she would send my love interest’s siblings to our location just to “hang out”. It was over the top.
As “A” leads to “B”, it was only elementary that issues with our relationship spilled into church life. The issues weren’t between the young lady and I, the issues were all from her mother fearing the loss of control she once had. So her mother started spreading rumors and lies in the church, not only on my mother and myself but on her very OWN daughter, that was the lowest of the low to me. She would go to the pastor crying and telling her fabricated stories. Then I noticed that relationships I had cultivated in the church started to change. People wouldn’t converse as much or associate as much. Just a select few who knew the truth and knew my heart remained. Things were getting very stressful for my love interest at her home, as her mom was physically and verbally abusive. I told her, it’s not worth it. I’ll just move on. It shouldn’t be this much turmoil and unnecessary stress just to be a part of someone’s family. Blood is thicker than water and at the end of the day you should always have your family. I love you too much to see you go through this, I’ll just leave. She begged me to stay, pleaded with me and convinced me. So I told her, once I am in. I am ALL IN, 100% to the end. I will never leave you, I’ll always be here. Are you sure you want this? She said yes. So it was at that moment I totally committed myself to her. As we grew closer, the intensity of  both her mother’s and sister’s assaults followed suit in the forms of slander and emotional abuse. I found myself hurting, not for me. But for the one I loved.  Seeing her hurt, hurt me. Seeing her cry, cut me. My colourful, vibrant life was starting to fade before my eyes.
Almost every day was some ridiculous event, scenario or yelling going on in the background whenever we talked on the phone. Being adept at spiritual warfare and having to endure what I grew up in, I could tell her mom was doing some shady praying. It was affecting my home and even my relationship with my mom. So, being a prayer warrior I knew how to handle the situation. I know that when I pray, God listens and answers. So I told my love, “Your mom is praying prayers against me and my mom that are not of God and they’re affecting us. I’ve done all I can in being respectful, polite and trying to embrace her but she only has one agenda in mind. I have to defend myself. I can only turn my cheek so many times”. Because she knew who I am, she begged me not to pray. After all, it was her mom and what was important to her was important to me. So I willingly let my defenses down and took the incoming onslaught. Love sacrifices. It might not have been the wisest move, but it was all I knew at the time to appease her. I figured I was strong enough to take it until she had her own place and we could finally be together without any distractions.
Daily, my vibrant life started to fade. I knew I could withstand this barrage of lies and slander; after all, I faced demons nightly for years and survived. This wasn’t going to kill me. The battle strategy wouldn’t be retaliation but it had to be endurance and patience. Hearing all the lies, the rumours, seeing all her tears, her sister carrying out her mom’s agenda with the sinister snitching and back biting continued to beat me down but I was resilient. Then one day I saw something that blew my mind, I was in church worshipping during service. And I looked around and saw her mom raising her hands, worshipping and praying in tongues.
That messed me up!
“God are you seeing this right now? This woman just spent all week lying, slandering, abusing and is in here in your face worshipping you like it’s nothing. Like she did nothing wrong. God are you seeing this? This can’t be real life”. That totally threw me off, from that day I couldn’t worship right or get my psyche into church because it totally messed with my mind. How someone could be so evil and then act as if they’re holy. My vibrancy dropped a few shades that day. My fiery, Christian passion started to wane.
Things went from very bad to worse, as my love had to move out of state just to get away from her mom and for her benefit and safety. She had to leave her business behind and start from scratch. As difficult as it was for us to be a couple in the same state, I couldn’t imagine how we would be able to deal with the added distance.
Things were very difficult for her, but I was her shoulder and strength. I would encourage and help her emotionally, financially and otherwise anyway I could. She didn’t have a job and lived from house to house. Her mom still persisted with the mental abuse, telling her that she’s under a curse for leaving home, being with me isn’t God’s will and that’s why things are so hard. If we ever have kids they will be under a curse, just look at my skin. And plus I’m from the Caribbean and all we do is voodoo. Still being unable to defend myself in prayer because she begged me not to, I took every blow for over a year. But I held on to the fact that this wouldn’t kill me, even as I was fading to grey. I knew I had survived satan’s best onslaughts. This would just be a light affliction and worth it in the end. I really wish I could articulate how intense the entire situation was but unless you were emotionally and mentally invested like I was, words will never do it justice.
FINALLY after months of her struggling in another city, finally after endless job hunting and finally after having her own place, she did it! She was in a good place, I was so happy for her. She can be at peace and we can begin to focus on us. I no longer had to fade and my fire no longer had to fizzle. At this point I was holding on by a thread.
Then one day she called me like she usually would and just said “I think it’s best we not talk anymore. Bye.” And she hung up the phone.
I died that day.

Living Dead (Age 24)

My life was no longer a series of faded colours, it was instantly black and grey. My fire was out and all that was left of me was ash. How is it that the one I covered like an umbrella with my prayers, my heart and my words, the one whom I took every arrow in my back for as I covered her to defend her because I couldn’t defend myself. Could so easily, in my vulnerability towards her…. Stab me in the heart and walk away?
I was an empty husk that day. A shell of myself.
I spent so many hours/weeks/months investing in her, investing in us. Now I was left to live with a stranger; and the stranger was me.
I had no appetite or desire to sleep because all I did was dream of her and in the same token all I wanted to do was sleep so I could end the day, end the pain, end the thoughts of her.
I no longer read my bible out of duty or to grow in God. I literally read my bible just to survive. No particular scripture or verse; just reading. I was already dead. I couldn’t endure a 2nd death.
For one year, I was a zombie. I really create didn’t artistically and my spiritual life was meh. Just black and grey. No vibrancy. Those who knew me intimately would ask “What’s wrong? Where did your fire go? Where did your roar go?” I didn’t have a reply. Even though I knew what I was, I just didn’t know how to get there anymore. The fire was gone and Daveion was dead. This was an unexpected turn of events. I continued “living” life, not out of happiness or the pursuit of destiny but because that’s what you do when you wake up with air in your lungs. You endure the day until the sun sets. #wash #rinse #repeat
Life was one seamless stream of black and grey.

Remember (Age 25)

I don’t know how it happened or when it happened. But I just got tired of being dead. I got tired of being mundane and mediocre. I got tired of just “living” and not thriving like I used to. I took out the prophecy I had written down from the first vision God gave me when I was 11. The vision that started it all, and I read every word, internalized every word and locked into every word as being TRUE! And at that moment within my spirit I saw the ash heap that represented my life. There were embers starting to form and from the embers emerged a phoenix with great vigor. From my death, a new life and passion was rebirthed. In the midst of death, God was able to reincarnate with the breath of life! My passion was back, my intensity was back, my fire was back. 

The vision of the piercing, red embers being breathed to life from a seemingly dead, black ash heap resonated within me. Those two colours, red and black immediately took on an iconic purpose in my life. The black was death and the red was the fiery life of the phoenix that emerged triumphant from it. From that moment I was divinely inspired to create again and in 2006 I had the (Re:D) exhibit. RE:D was an acronym for the REiteration of Daveion. I had to remind myself why I was what was, who I am and why I was here to begin with. The image I used in the exhibit to represent myself was indicative of this change. Every design element used had descriptive, symbolic purpose.

 Starting at the bottom:
  1. We see arrows moving down and then they turn upwards. This is symbolic of my life dying out and then before I hit rock bottom, God brought a complete turn around and resurrected me.
  2. Those arrows are connected to 2 bigger, rotating arrows that encompass a radioactive symbol as well as 4 connected circles. The radioactive symbol represents my atomic heart i.e. passion and drive for God. The three circles connected to the bigger circle signify the Holy Trinity inseparably joined to my soul. The arrows encompassing both the circles and the atomic symbol are constantly rotating like gears because it is generating battery like power that is a result of the symbols co-dependence.
  3. My right hand is superimposed over the silhouette of the moon and my left hand over the sun and earth. This represents my dominion over heaven and earth as stated in Matthew 16:19.
  4. The diagonal arrows that extend from my right wrist to my left shoulder, signify my perpetual growth and expansion in every area of life.
  5. Hovering over my shoulders are angel wings and a halo on my head to symbolise sainthood.
For a few years after that, everything I created was primarily in red and black. At present, even though my style has re-evolved to embracing vibrant, vivid, raw colour again, there will always be some semblance of red and black in my work as it was the new foundation that I was reestablished upon.
I invite you to view the works of the (Re:D) gallery HERE by scrolling to the bottom and clicking enter.