For Jamaican-born visual artist Charles Campbell, making good art is about expanding his world and its possibilities—and then inspiring others to do the same.
The now Victoria-based painter, sculptor and performance artist has been exploring multiple disciplines and his own creative mind for nearly 30 years, and this year he has been honoured with the Jack & Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts VIVA Award.
“I can be extroverted, but mostly I tend to come into myself, and so the art production is where I kind of move into the world and imagine its possibilities in a bigger space,” Charles says. “At this moment, in the world, it feels like things are closing down. There’s this ecological tragedy we’re living through and a kind of segmentation of groups into smaller categories. There’s so much possibility in the world, so let’s recapture that sense. And hopefully, through my art, I can help and inspire other people to imagine that bigger perspective.”
As for what he’s discovered is possible for himself, the 52-year-old highlights race and climate change as his most prominent motivations in creating art.
“It’s often about both capturing the experience I and other Black folks/racialized people have lived through, and seeing how that can assist us in navigating the future.
“Our history has demanded we reinvent our cultures and move forward. When you think about the history of slavery, its brutality and attempt to annihilate our social structures and personhood, it necessitated a kind of cultural ferment. We have to reconstruct ourselves.”