Influencer Morgaine Parris
Interview December 2022
Morgaine, could you share with us some information about your family life?
I was born in Curaçao, I am a single mother and I have three children 2 girl and one boy. My parents had 6 children, 4 girls, and two boys. But my mother also raised more children than the 6 of us and also used to share a lot. Both my parents used to work and they taught us to share. My mother use to work at the hospital and she would invite a whole board house or some elderly people or some homeless people to come and celebrate Christmas with us. We didn’t appreciate this early on as a child, as we saw her prepare the Christmas dinner and we taught it would be for us. But later on, we appreciated what she tried to teach us namely, humanity, love, and compassion, and also to share what we have, even if it isn’t much. My father use to teach me to make up my own decisions irrespective of what others tried to tell me. Once you have made up your mind, go and fight for it. When I was a child I always told my parents and everyone else that I wanted to become an artist. When I was two years old, I didn’t play with dolls, I was always painting and I wanted to become an artist, but my parents would not agree with this, as in those days artists would have miserable lives.
Could you share something about any other aspect of your educational background and your experiences?
I didn’t understand why I was not allowed to become an artist and I did a lot of different jobs, but one day I saw an advertisement for a 3rd grade Arts Teacher course in the newspapers and I immediately approached my father and asked for his permission. This time he agreed and I became overwhelmed for a moment after I regained my footing I did the course for the following two years. I already had one child and after I finished the course, I had my 2nd child, was born. But I didn’t want to be a teacher, I wanted to be an artist. And as my teachers were always encouraging me to continue my efforts to improve myself as an artist, one Arts teacher at Radulphus College once suggested me go and follow a course at Arnhem Holland to become a first-grade teacher in Arts. My subject matters were drawing, painting, and art history. It was a craft training and going to Holland for me was a challenge. As I didn’t want to go to Holland and I even missed out on certain pre-exams I needed to do in Arnhem. But in the end, I followed my passion and collected all the paintings I had drawn and I took them with me for the intake I was allowed immediately to follow the course, but had no exceptions and had to start from zero. But Holland was full of challenges for me. On the one hand, I left my children behind in Curaçao, they were very young. And at the school, I was the only colored person at the Academy. But on the other hand, the Academy itself was something wonderful and I knew that something big was happening for me, on my way to becoming an artist.
Going through the courses I was getting feedback on the colors I used, they were too lively, they weren’t colors that are found in nature, they knew nothing from e nor my background etc. In hindsight, I finished the Academy against all odds and during my last year I needed to do an internship and do 6 practice assignments/projects, which I did in Curaçao, but they told me that I would have to extend my studies for an extra half a year and would then graduate in January instead on June. This latest challenge got my going again as I worked day and night …during that time I discovered the “Cadushi” as an art object, they were different and it was a chance to prove myself again. I made photo’s from all sorts of angles and as I went back to Holland with these 6 projects, they told me: “Morgaine you have fulfilled the requirements”. This meant that I would graduate in June and the extra 6 months wouldn’t be necessary anymore. Once again overcoming obstacles and odds against me succeeding.
When something is yours, no one can take it away from you. This is my purpose in life as going through these experiences has taught me that I am very good at:
“Helping all those who are told that this is not something for you, this is not a job for you, to help them overcome themselves and pursue their passion and achieve their goals”.
After I graduated I couldn’t get a job, I started applying for a job as I was still in Holland to teach at the secondary school Arts Teacher, but I wasn’t accepted. It felt as if I was excluded and let down, but as those doors closed others doors open leading me to do another big thing, as long that you dare to pursue those doors (opportunities). So I started teaching in the barrios via the Department of Youth of the Ministry of Education and also took up teaching Arts at the BVO level, a very low level of education between Huishoud School and ETAO) being challenged to lower my level of teaching to be able to reach those students.
I was wondering how could I reach them.
But it taught me to uncover my purpose in life. Helping all those that were telling me that in Art, be it dancing, drama, ..etc you won’t get far. But this is exactly my purpose. I am telling people that were told that: “You have your talent, but don’t pursue a career in the Arts, go a become a doctor but not an artist”, despite this pick up the Arts and I support children and adults in this.
I also started teaching at the Academy of Arts so as I choose to work and this made me feel happy.
When I was in Holland, one of my mentors told me that our educational system in Curaçao although we live in a Caribbean context, it is so indoctrinated by a Dutch perspective, that they fully understand my rebellion against the Dutch-dominated educational system.
I would suggest you read the book: ‘Kabes duru’, written by A.C. Prins-Winkel. She describes situations, where children are labeled, are as being “dumb” whilst the educational system is obstructing the development of our children. To get a better understanding of what our educational system was doing, I went to the ‘Skol Humanista’ to get a better understanding of their system, but I did understand why we have so many dropouts. The children, except when they are working on Arts, are not allowed to be themselves, they are forced to speak and express themselves in Dutch. So they can’t express what they feel. So when I started teaching at the BVO school, I needed to lower my level of teaching and discovered in these children myself in them. I decided to cut the crap and spoke “Papiamentu” with them so that they can express what they feel, I started to connect with these children. In arts you work from the inside out, it has nothing to do with a language. In hindsight, I bow deeply for these children. This lead me to start giving classes to all other levels of education like LTS, SBO, VSBO and I even started giving classes at the prison.
So I overcame some new challenges.
We know you are to be a teacher, art teacher, and mural painter e.g in Otrobanda.
I don’t have murals only at ‘Kaya Kaya’. In 1998 I had my first exposition together with Erwin Kranenburg. In 1998, Percy Pinedo saw my exhibition and he invited me to his radio program. And asked me to start giving art classes at the Muziekschool.
We made collective murals with AHF, Art Heals Foundation and I made independent murals as Morgaine Parris, the artist.
What I have done over the years is, that I build a group of artists under the Art Heals Foundation I founded. The youngest artist is 4 years old and later on, we also got some adults in our group. Via this foundation, I once was invited by the Minister of Education to paint a wall at ‘Reclassering’.
I was invited by Rene Rosalia, former director of ‘Kas di Kultura’ to join the Festival de Fuego in 2010 as a mural artist in Santiago de Cuba. I visited the festival and painted with an international group of mural artists. In 2013 I realized the same trip again, this time with artist of AFH. Here mural artists from all over the world meet, and we met artists from Holland, Belgium, and Saudi Arabia. Mural art is not new in Cuba, just like in Mexico where Diego Rivera used murals to express Mexico’s history him. The same was done by mural artists in Cuba. I was impressed by the beauty of the murals.
Where else can we find your murals?
With our ‘Art Heals Foundation’, we painted a mural at the wall of the Refinery just close to the main entrance of the Refinery.
We also went to Santiago Cuba in 2013 for 9 days with a delegation of 25 participants. The youngest participant was 7 years old accompanied by their parents.
We collected funds and got funding from the Sint Bernhard Fonds, we took all our materials with us, but there was bad weather and in the end, had only 4 to 5 days to paint our 4 murals as we needed to focus and work on shifts as I taught them to paint as a team with love. It wasn’t the achievement of one single person, but it was a team effort. This is what I try to share. We can achieve so much together, without any of us losing our individuality. We were complimented, as it wasn’t expected that we would finish in time.
You can also find murals in Otrobanda at Hoogstraat, where you can see our ‘windows’, another one was painted close to Nettobar.
We also made some interactive paintings where people can take pictures in Otrobanda.
As Morgaine Parris, the artist I made a mural at Soto where I have drawn the history of Curaçao, and at Suffisant I made a mural from Guyana, my father came from Guyana, representing Guyana’s richness as the Department of Culture wanted to pay a homage to the workers from different other countries that came to Curaçao to work in Curaçao for Shell. I also made a commercial mural for Flow in Santa Maria.
Where does your interest in the arts come from?
It must have been God given, because since I can recall from the age of 2, I knew that that’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.
Is it possible to release emotions via one’s art?
Yes sure, when you are practicing arts, you go inside yourself. Information from the outside is digested, felt, and interpreted internally. Art allows you to be Free again, like a child. We’ve learned to suppress our inner selves in order to adapt and adjust to the false expectations of the community.
Through art, we can release our inner burdens and feelings hidden deep inside. By releasing this we get to know who and what we are and therefor understands the real true meaning of life better.
What drives you?
Being able to make others realize that furthermost of all that you don’t to be a talented artist to practice art and express yourself. Art is a way to communicate that can be thought through Art. (Dance, sing, music, painting etc.)
I had the privilege of giving workshops at an organization for people with mental issues.
I am mentoring a client for three months now and this client couldn’t sleep. I am not a psychologist, nor a psychiatrist, but in short, this person started painting and you can see some drastic changes in this client. This person also started to take notice of other persons surrounding her and the only thing needed was a canvas, paint, and pencils.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
There had been some challenges. During that Covid period, lots of people discovered the value of arts.
This period was traumatic, as we were forced to walk with mouth caps and keep our distance and we were closed up at our homes and couldn’t leave our houses in our car when we left from your house. Lots of people didn’t have an outlet. Arts can be therapy. Some people come to me for that reason, I strive to reach youths having issues in the post-COVID era. The nightmare will not just go like that. I know I can help people with painting. I help them when I am not interested in knowing the details of the problem. I help people to grow and find out what they want and where they want to be some years from now.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now and do what you are doing now?
I am asking myself, why do we make our lives so difficult? Why do we emphasize the differences, as we are one, why don’t we help each other? Why do we try to do it alone? I don’t comprehend this. There are no differences, we just need to unite.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
This is the first year I am not teaching at the regular school. At times, I am also challenged in such a way, as there is so much to do, that I can’t sleep.
What are your plans for the coming years, let us say 5 years from now?
I want to have made my mark internationally. I am noticing that slowly but surely, I am moving forward. With our group, we went to Cuba, Italy and three years later we visited New York. Everywhere we go, we felt a connection with the world via Arts, you don’t need to speak the same language, so I would have made major advances 5 years from now.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
Since I was a child, I am an introvert, I did a lot of thinking. I was very well connected with my inner feelings. I can sense when something is right or isn’t right. I retreat from other people for a while as I want to find it out for myself. People can’t influence me from the outside in. I am such a sensitive person so I know how to master my emotions now, but in the past, they used to affect me a lot in a negative way.
How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skill levels?
Via internet I keep myself super positive even during the COVID period. It is a powerful tool and I know in the end positivism overcomes the negative.
What are your strengths?
The fighter in me;
My sound judgment using the inner compass that tells me when something is right;
I am a very persistent person, I will not always discuss this with a lot of people. But I am going to go after it and do it;
My ability to unite people, like I did when after Cuba we decided to go to Florence as the Arts Heals Foundation. All bought into this goal and we did it. I firmly believe that we can always achieve our goals if we unite and collaborate. Even if art is something from yourself, you can still unite.
What other hobbies do you have?
I am also a make-up artist, and a beauty therapist, basically using my creativity. I love creating new things. Lots of people come to me for ideas on what can be done or created.
If you would meet a stranger on the bus (let’s say in Berlin or Bogota Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I will introduce myself as an artist. Art for me is compared to spirituality, and this way I can in a humble way connect and be of service through my artistry.
You have a small ego. How would you describe Morgaine in one word or one sentence?
Caring, humble and a creative listener.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now as they organized a surprise party for you?
I don’t like surprise parties, so that will not happen, unless it is in Dubai, ha, ha. I’ll rather be grateful and celebrate my Health and Life after these years with the art legacy we’ve achieved together with a group of united Artists.
Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
As an artist, it will be Vincent van Gogh. His humility, he lived and died poor and was humble. People thought he was mad, because of his spirituality he was a highly sensitive person and was bullied. My mother because she is a fighter, also very creative and never gives up. All the women in my life that inspired me. My father who always respected, supported and accepted the women through his life.
What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
Stop worrying too much, as I know that there is a solution for everything. This is my weak point. I sometimes also take too much on my shoulders and I can be very sharp in my family circles.
What was a defining moment in your life?
Deciding to stick with my passion to become an artist even though it was tough at times, as a single mother of three children.
This year leaving my formal job as a teacher and now dedicating my life full-time to the Arts after 28 years. St last I can do what I want to without limitations. When I was a formal teacher, I had some flexibility possibilities, but it is not comparable to what I have and feel now.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
I have to keep fighting for Curaçao, I have my children. I look around me and I see the greediness, and materialism of the older generations, it is becoming less and less. I am convinced that we will blossom as Curaçao. We have so much to offer. We as adults are responsible for the positive gains of the overhand. The smallest children have a different vibe. They are empathic and compassionate, they share and they are very positive. That is why I want to guard this coming generation and fight for them. That is what makes me optimistic. The seeds are there and we need to keep nurturing these seeds.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Yes, as you well know I was in a lot of doubts to attend the workshop I.O.L.E.E. (Inside Out Learning Experience Ecosystem, www.iolee.life) in July 2022 that Carlo Monsanto facilitated in the Golden Village. It wasn’t about the money. I prayed to God to guide me and I am so happy and grateful that I attended. I was so impressed and felt so well since then. I also became aware that I am not alone and that I have met a lot of like-minded people, as they are doing the same things that I am trying to achieve empowering other people. The turnaround is much closer than I thought and since I am following the Facilitators training I never missed one session.
One of the 250 Influencers
Morgaine Parris is an artist, art teacher, mother, and social entrepreneur, that is passionate, dedicated, persistent, positive, strong and a people’s uniter. Since she was a child, she wanted to be an artist but was prevented from becoming one for all the good reasons by her educators in her environment. During her whole life, she had to overcome all sorts of resistance making her stand out as “a fighter” to go after that what she really believes in. These experiences helped her find her purpose in life, which is to help all those who are experiencing the same resistance she experienced, to help them find their purpose and help them overcome resistance. Through her foundation “Art Heals Foundation” and her Art Teaching classes in different walks of life, she helps people develop their painting skills, but she uses “painting” also for therapeutic reasons. What makes her stand out, even more, is, is her strong belief in a team effort and we-mentality, contrary to the “me, myself and “I”-mentality. For all these reasons, we consider Morgaine Parris as one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao, representing the Cultural Sector. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.
The goal of the core group of Share2Uplift for 2022
The goal of the Share2Uplift movement is to: “Identify 250 leaders from all walks of life to connect, align and create impactful changes in all walks of life, which includes intergenerational collaboration by the end of 2022.” We will use interviewing Influencers, meet-and-greet events, “train-the-trainers”-programs on “Emotional Mastery” and “Intentionality “as national intervention strategies, to reach this goal on top of our goal to scale up the possibilities to connect, align and create impact via a virtual platform. We believe that by collaborating with Miguel Goede on the virtual Vision 2030 platform, we will accelerate the possibilities to connect the diaspora and others elsewhere in the world and on the island willing to constructively create impactful changes in Curaçao, to join.
As Share2Uplift, we are fully trying to align with this thinking of Center for Curriculum Redesign to promote this agenda in our educational systems and workplace. So, in that sense, we fully support any initiative to make our educational system 21st-century proof.
Share2Uplift aligners are those that:
– Create an inspiring vision of the future;
– Motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision;
– Manage the delivery of the vision;
– Coach and build a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision. These criteria are now being polished.
We also consider these 5 values the most important ones for Share2Uplift aligners. They are:
• Peace from within;
As we will progress towards this goal, we will update you on the progress.
Personal coaching tips
This week we will share some short videos on restoration & murals.
Can reparations help right the wrongs of slavery? – YouTube
23 Amazing Pieces Of Street Art Around The World – YouTube
3D GRAFFITI MURALS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND – YouTube
TEENAGE GIRL MAKES AMAZING STREET ART! | Short film by QZ AU – YouTube
TOP 10 FEMALE GRAFFITI WRITERS – YouTube