La Vaughn Belle was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1974 and relocated to the US Virgin Islands the same year. She holds an MFA from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and an MA and BA from Columbia University, NY. Her work has evolved from figurative and symbolic explorations in painting to variety of modes that include video, performance, installation and public intervention projects.
For several years her work has responded to the questions surrounding the coloniality of the Virgin Islands, both in its present relationship to the US and it’s past one to Denmark. The resulting vocabulary borrows from elements of architecture, literature, history, archeology and social protest to create narratives that challenge the colonial process. She has exhibited her work in the Caribbean, the USA and Europe and participated in such exhibitions as the Havana Bienal and the Caribbean: Crossroads of the World exhibit at the Museo del Barrio in NY. She currently lives and works in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.
I see my art practice as an investigative tool, as a way to engage in dialogue, a platform for thinking and a means to develop knowledge. My work has evolved from figurative and symbolic explorations in painting to a variety of modes that include drawing, video, performance, installation and public intervention projects. Therefore, the emphasis of my work does not lie in the medium, but in creating a space to explore social contexts and collective narratives. History, film, soap-operas, fairy-tales and mythology all inform my work in that they are both narrative modes that I use as well as sites of investigation. I look for the narratives inscribed in various objects and places and find ways to add to them and at times subvert them. Because I live in the Virgin Islands, a place that has changed colonial hands seven times, the longest being Denmark and the last being the United States, I am particularly interested in the colonial and neocolonial narrative and how it shapes identity, memory and reality.