I am so pleased to be able to give Yolanda her first solo exhibition in Antigua. During the late 80's Gloria and I were regulars at the Woodberry Park Restaurant when budding artists Yolanda and husband Warren were first experimenting with paint. Looking at her work today, which captures the essence of Caribbean island life with a powerful simplicity few master, I am proud to be able to say that in a small way we helped encourage her down the road to self expression.
The exhibition opens at 5pm Saturday February 27th at our home and studio Aiton Place in Hodges Bay, Antigua.
Born in New York City, Yolanda (Harris) grew up in the United States where she met and married Warren Woodberry. In 1983 they decided to explore her Caribbean roots and moved to Antigua & Barbuda, the native country of her parents..... Barbudan Joseph Harris and his Antiguan wife, Agatha Gonsalves, (both now deceased).
On opening the Woodberry Park Restaurant, Yolanda decided that the bare walls needed some adornment and being an enterprising spirit, she tried her hand at a few pictures. The response from her diners was so positive that it was clear that she should develop her obvious talent.
Woodberry Park grew from a restaurant to a boxing arena, a general sports center, a miniature golf range and a roller-skating rink. Similarly, Yolanda's artwork progressed through the continuous development of varied concepts and techniques. Like many artists, she is predominantly self-taught, but acknowledges the support and encouragement of many influences. She expanded her artistic horizons through a series of courses in oil painting at the Venezuelan Institute of Culture in Antigua..... in 1988 with Professor Jose Castillo Arnes, in 1990 with Regna Dubraska Nunex, and in 1991 with Prof. William Power. Her search for additional inspiration led her to Melville Richardson and during three months of instruction she was inspired to strive for "unlimited boundaries abstract." Her own instinctive style emerged - colorful, sensual, vibrant..... complex compositions with interconnecting elements as views, people and Caribbean icons combine through interwoven contours. The themes encapsulate traditional Caribbean life, love, family, market-trading, habitat and, of course, the sea. Today she is widely accepted as one of Antigua's leading artists.
In 1995, the Antigua and Barbuda General Post Office commissioned her to produce a series of stamps entitled" Slices of Caribbean Life". Designed in vivid block colors, they conveyed Antiguan's and Barbudan's at work, in the market, and caring for the family, and won critical approval. One art critic commented, "Viewing the stamps, one gets the feeling of Caribbean life when the family and togetherness were the mainstays of local life."
In 1994 one of her paintings was selected by the Government of Antigua to be presented to West Indies cricket batsman Brian Lara in appreciation of his record breaking 375 runs. TV personality, Robin Leach, (part-time resident on Antigua), also owns a Yolanda original.
Yolanda has exhibited at the Island Arts Gallery and Harmony Hall, (both of Antigua's main art centers), the Antigua Art Society's annual art shows, and also participated in "Five Women Artists of Antigua", an exhibit which received local television coverage.
As a result of her growing reputation, her work has been discussed in the LIAT ISLANDER, The ANTIGUA SUN, New York's AMSTERDAM NEWS, CARIBBEAN WORLD, and THE ARTIST magazine.