DRISANA DEBORAH JACK
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Drisana Deborah Jack – Saint Martin
Drisana Deborah Jack, ( Saint Martin) , Netherlands Antilles )has been acclaimed for work which bravely reconciles trans-cultural existence and memory while constructing energetic new mythologies. A media professional with the Government Information Office in St. Martin , she is at the articulate edge of a small and exciting batch of St.Martiners who are simultaneously busy in literature, art, dance, song, and music. Their energy became the essential impetus for the nation's cultural leap into the twenty-first century. These cultural workers come at a time when they are urgently needed in their country. Their vanguard initiative is earning critical attention throughout the Caribbean and beyond from noted artists and institutions.
When Jack - also busy in art and theatre - was granted a Fellowship by the Caribbean Writers Institute at the University of Miami (1996), she was already being called a leader and "a most promising poet" among St. Martin 's cultural crowd in the Newsday and Guardian newspapers.
Drisana Deborah Jack crosses all sorts of borders in her poetry. It is a matter of principle that she does not limit herself to the boundaries of one genre. Her literature is music, dance, art, as much as text.
Thematically, she touches upon mythical grounds. Her collection The Rainy Season hovers between family, love, music and rhythm.
Jack’s recitals have been at functions ranging from a "book party" for scholar George Lamming to a protest against the proposed "Franco-Dutch" colonial treaty. Before graduating from Marist College (BA, 1993), she had been published in MC's Collection of Non-fiction Student Writings, listed in Who's Who of Students in American Colleges and Universities, and picked up the National Collegiate Communications Award.
Drisana Deborah Jack was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1970, to Caribbean parents. As a child her parents
brought her to St. Martin, her mother’s home island, where she was reared in Cole Bay village.
Jack graduated from SUNY at Buffalo with an MFA in 2002, but by then had already co-founded and acted with the Teenage Acting Company while attending the MPC high school, and published her first poetry book, The Rainy Season (1997), in St. Martin. She went on to exhibit her artwork in the Caribbean, the USA, Europe, and Japan.
Jack, a Caribbean artist by “geography and cultural/spiritual location, constructs ... a personal/cultural history based on ancestral or re-memory using painting, video, photography, sound art, and poetry.” Her poetry has appeared in The Caribbean Writer and Calabash.
Articles citing and reviewing her work have appeared in Today, The St. Maarten Guardian, Beurs- en Nieuwsberichten, Artpapers Journal, Buffalo News, and in Fabian Badejo’s Salted Tongues – Modern Literature in St. Martin (2003).
Jack has recited her poetry and lectured on the cultural arts at readings and festivals such as No To The Franco-Dutch Treaty, CARIFESTA VI, VII, at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Miami Bookfair International, Crossing the Seas, Poetry Africa, and Tradewinds.
A leading St. Martin poet and mother of one daughter, Jack is an assistant art professor at New Jersey City University. Awards and honors include a Caribbean Writers Institute Fellow (UM), Prince Bernhard Culture Fund and New York Foundation for the Arts grants, SUNY Buffalo Dissertation Fellowship, Photography Institute fellow, Lightwork Artist-in-Residence (Syracuse University), CEPA Exhibition Award, and a US National Endowment for the Arts residency at Big Orbit Gallery. Skin is Jack’s
second book of poems.
Drisana Jack takes island culture to Miami and beyond
PHILIPSBURG--Artist/poet Drisana Deborah Jack will expose St. Martin culture in Miami
Thursday for the second time in less than one month. Jack is among a select group of
artists opening the prestigious Art Basel 2006 at the Diaspora Vibe Gallery in culture chic
Miami Beach on December 7.
Jack’s photo and video art, especially her treatment of salt and sea, “had to score
off the scales” to enter the Art Basel 2006, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of
Nehesi Publishers (HNP) and a former president of the New York art Organization BDA, Inc.
The juried exhibition, entitled Rituals, runs until December 31. Sample encouraged “travel-
happy St. Maarteners who may be in that city” to attend the show. Art Basel Miami is the US
sister event of Art Basel Switzerland, touted in haute art circles as “the most important
annual art show worldwide for the past 37 years.”
The Art Basel Miami curator is Rosie Gordon-Wallace and the organization minces no words in
pointing out that it is “the most important art show on the American continent and a cultural
and social highlight of the Americas.”
“This busy year for Debbie Jack comes from long dedication, hard work, and high creativity
. Lasana Sekou’s critique of her early work in the mid-1990s tagged her then at the ‘articulate
edge’ of an emerging ‘cultural brat pack’ of St. Martin artists. She has grown impressively
since then,” said Sample.
In mid-November 2006, Jack and her new book Skin were at the Miami Book Fair International
. She recited water poems 1, 3, 4, 5, “motherlines,” “in memento mori,” and “a salting of sorts”
from Skin – alongside Jamaica’s Rhodes Scholar poet Mervyn Morris.
The author’s dedication to art and literature keeps her doubly busy representing her nation.
According to Jack, “St. Martin writers are not widely known so any exposure especially
to such an esteemed and knowledgeable audience is a plus.”
Skin, launched in the Netherlands in January, is Jack’s second volume published by HNP.
In June, Skin was the featured title at the 4th Annual St. Martin Book Fair. There is more.
Jack is currently one of 34 contemporary artists in the Jersey City Museum exhibit
Tropicalisms: Subversions of Paradise.
Jack, an assistant professor at New Jersey City University, is deeply concerned about
the essential need for St. Martin art to be reviewed by critical experts. In fact, over the
last two years, her work has received the most critical treatment of the island’s visual arts,
Suggesting a highly effective reflection of the St. Martin experience in her Tropicalisms work,
exhibit curator Rocio Aranda-Alvarado writes: “An endless loop of moving ocean water, Deborah
Jack’s (Untitled) Sea II is a solemn, poetic and magnificent reminder of how such bodies
of water directly affect tropical locations in economic, political and social ways.
“The ebb and flow, the unrelenting movement of the waters against the shore is like a metaphor
for the constant displacement of island populations.” The NJ exhibit, online since September
2006, closes on January 14, 2007.
Taken from The Daily Herald, Dec 5th 2006
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