Clara Reyes on what Art means to her

March 22, 2023 2:06 pm

“I've been lucky enough to have grown up in a household where art history and art making was a daily part of my life,” shares Clara Reyes, Head of the Culture Department and Co-Founder of National Institute of Arts, “I had a mother who created a space for me to be this consummate artist by providing the opportunities for me to be enrolled in as many creative, as well as, sporting activities.

My mother ensured that our family, all of her children, were enrolled in multiple interdisciplinary activities. So steel-pan lessons, typing lessons, piano lessons, guitar lessons, softball, volleyball, hiking, secretarial courses, night schools. And she was able to pay for all my dance classes, my gymnastics classes, all of that.

She celebrated our talents. She celebrated our creativity. And as a young child in St. Maarten, via the St Maarten Council of the Arts and such luminaries as Anastacia Larmonie, Josiane Artsen Fleming, and Mavis Brooks-Solomon. These were some of the teachers instrumental in maintaining that space for the youth of St Maarten through events such as the Children's Book Week, and multiple other creative outlets done with productions, elementary schools, and high schools.

So really and truly, I grew up in St Maarten at a time when there was such a nurturing atmosphere for young people. And there was a group of elders - the St Maarten Council of the Arts, Mr. Camille Bailey, and Miss Scott to name a few. So many people were in involved with children's lives. And I was one of those beneficiaries of that atmosphere where there was such a nurturing atmosphere for young people to find their space.

It's just a part of who I am. I've identified as an artist, as a creative being, as a creative, expressive person, and opportunities were made available to me to fully engage in all things creative and expressive. I participated in them and in safe, nurturing spaces. So I could sing, I could dance, I could act, I could run, I could jump. I could fly, I could soar in my magnificence of finding myself in that creative space.

Living and breathing within the artist space, I didn't think of what art meant to me. I knew it was a place that received me, embraced me, and allowed me to be me as I was meant to be as a creative being. But when I see it today as an educator, and see the benefits of it, to know that I really and wholly understand that artistry is literally fulfilling the best of our self, of our humanity.

Involving with the arts allows us to fulfill our full human potential. We reach our intellectual high. We reach our intellectual pinnacle - the zenith of the fullness of our humanity through the arts. And artistry is not necessarily just singing and dancing.

Artistry is the excellence of our self, the best part of our humanity, the elevated, the spiritual, the cosmic connection of excellence and execution - excellence in discovery, excellence in voice, excellence and finding voice, excellence in discourse, in critical thinking, and creative thinking. So artistry is really an all-encompassing experience to where the humanity fulfills its destiny, its purpose of transcending limitations placed upon them.

So being an artist is the connection to a complete plug and connection. Tapping into the creative energy of the creator and allowing us to find the best of ourselves through our talents. Through the thing that makes us whole and rich and dense.”