THE WORK of Trinidadian artist Andrea McKenzie has been recognised with an award in Atlanta, Georgia, US, and will also be displayed this month in the Atlanta Mayor's Gallery.
McKenzie, who is based in Atlanta, recently won the 2019 I am Black, I am Power, Art and Creativity award from the Black People United Global Network with "Black" being an acronym for Beautiful Living Ancestors Controlling Kingdoms Irreplaceable Amazing Melanin.
The founder and CEO of Black People United Global Network, Dr Angela Harris, said the body, which was founded in December 2015, seeks to "strategically honour people of all nationalities and religions in the black race from all around the world.
"Our mission is to collectively come together under one roof to give recognition to well-deserving individuals who have gone above and beyond to help the relevancy of our image as a race to have a positive influence on our families, communities and business through their God-given gifts and talents."
McKenzie told Newsday via e-mail that she was nominated anonymously for the award.
"I felt honoured to be recognised amongst thousands of artists in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. I always work hard towards perfecting my craft and achieving my goals. Receiving this award brought great fulfilment and pride to be able to represent my country internationally in the arts."
McKenzie's work was also selected by the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, to be exhibited at the Mayor's Gallery, City Hall, Atlanta, from November 14- January 4 in a dual exhibition called SANKOFA (go back and get it).
"I'm very excited to be given this amazing opportunity."
The exhibit will feature ten pieces from McKenzie of mixed media including glass, acrylic, resin, glitter and cowrie shells. She said her new, unique style is giving her the breakthrough, "as no one is doing it in Georgia."
Atlanta's Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA), in an online post, announced the exhibition by McKenzie and Ghana-born artist Alfred Addo. The joint exhibition commemorates the ideas embodied in Ghana’s Year of Return, a reflection on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans' arrival in Jamestown, Virginia.
Addo was born to a family of artists and has been exposed to art since infancy. OCA noted his primary inspiration came from his father, who exhibited his work regularly and challenged Addo to produce unique artwork.
"Although Addo was passionate about art, he also possessed a keen interest in the physical sciences, a field he found satisfyingly challenging. He was torn between going to college to study medicine and pursuing his passion to be a professional artist. In the end, he chose to follow his passion and pursue art full-time.
"Since then, Addo has specialised in sculpture as his core medium. Interestingly, his physical science background led him to experiment with different materials, including sawdust, which he played with as a child in the sawmill where his father bought and cut wood for his sculptures. Naturally, Addo grew up loving this medium and decided to make it the main material he uses in all his artwork. Passionate about the sustainability of the earth, Addo perfected the method of recycling sawdust and waste materials to create various types of sculptures and relief works."
Addo has successfully participated in many international art exhibitions in places including Johannesburg, Cape Town, New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Miami, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Atlanta, San Diego, California, Martha’s Vineyard and in his home city Accra, Ghana.
OCA described McKenzie as "a true island girl" who comes from one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, TT, and her natural aptitude for creativity was nurtured at an early age because of her family’s involvement in the nation’s world-famous Carnival.
"McKenzie’s fascination with contrast, textures, and fabrics was the fuel behind her kaleidoscope-like pieces. She uniquely infused glass, acrylic, and other materials on varying canvas, which propelled her into achieving a viable international clientèle."
OCA noted throughout her young career, she has exhibited works in multiple nations including TT and neighbouring Caribbean islands. Her art has also been exhibited in New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, London and Australia.
In 2013, after losing her job in event marketing, McKenzie pursued her passion for art and became a full-time artist, with clients in the US and Europe. As a full-time artist, she does commissioned pieces where people contact her via e-mail or on her website and let her know what they want, whether it is for their homes or businesses.
Her first exhibition, Pieces of Me, was held in Trinidad in 2013 and featured 25 pieces about her and life experiences, including first love and first disappointment.
McKenzie has clients from countries such as the US, Sweden, England, Scotland and TT. She works primarily with acrylic on canvas or wood board. Her dream is to have her pieces featured in the set decoration of successful television shows and box office movies and showcased all over the world.
To see more of McKenzie’s work visit her Instagram @andreas.heart and her art page on Facebook at Andrea’s Unique Art.