“Art and Cocoa: A Social Experiment” by Christina Cornier
Asher Mains is a representational, figurative painter from Grenada, West Indies. He has been making and exhibiting his work extensively throughout Grenada and Barbados for over 20 years. Drawing from references in art history, West Indian traditions, and urban street art, Mains often incorporates found objects and symbolic materials into his paintings to tell a story about Grenadian culture and the environment. He is represented by Art and Soul Gallery and is currently an MFA student at the Transart Institute through the University of Plymouth, UK.
It was a process of really trying to come to grips with and unify a lot of the themes with which I wanted to work. I ultimately came to the cocoa farmers as subjects because I am interested in their story as a group of people who are not traditionally highly regarded in society. Agriculture is important and it’s tragic in a way that more young people are not entering this field of work. This community was a good entry point for me because very few of the workers own formal art objects, and very few of them have been publicly thanked for the important work they do. It is a community that I feel will genuinely appreciate the gesture I am offering, and I am also interested in observing what happens as a result of this gesture. I love to think that art can be more than decoration. I love what can happen between the object and the viewer. Through this process, and at its conclusion, I would love to be able to point to this project with positive outcomes and say, “This is what art can be“.
I also asked him what he feels his role is as the artist in society.
Artists are interpreters of reality. This is a big responsibility and involves having a lot of interests. There really isn’t anything that can’t be used with art to tell us something we either hadn’t noticed or didn’t know about our existence. My interests, especially in this project, have to do with identity, the interconnectedness of agriculture in our society, power dynamics, and concepts of capital and ownership. My role in this capacity is to communicate these topics in a seamless way so that the viewer can have a new set of tools with which to interpret their own reality.
To learn more about Asher Mains and this project visit his website at Ashermains.com. Since the work is being given to the farmers and is not for sale he needs our financial support to fund this project and keep it moving forward. Visit his Kickstarter page “Painted Portraits for Cocoa Farmers” to make a donation.