Women's Words: Caribbean Worlds

March 3-4, 2023

Maryse Condé writes in “Order, Disorder, Freedom, and the West Indian Writer” that “whenever women speak out, they displease, shock, or disturb” (161). Caribbean women creators explore topics that seek to challenge norms and to question what is acceptable. This event brings together two renowned Caribbean women whose work explores various “taboo” aspects of identity, including, but not limited to: gender, sexuality, spirituality, and migration. The Winthrop-King Institute has invited Guadeloupean author Gisèle Pineau and Haitian visual artist Tessa Mars to capture a broad range of gendered Caribbean experiences. Each creator will talk about their own work and creative processes. They will also have the opportunity to explore the resonances and echoes between their lived and creative experiences. Ultimately, “Women’s Words: Caribbean Words” offers possibilities for a nuanced understanding of Caribbeanness and the plurality of its expressions and representations across media.

Keynote Speakers

Gisèle Pineau is a prolific writer from Guadeloupe. Pineau has contributed extensively to the French literary scene, having written nearly twenty books, including poetry, novels (both adult and young adult), and articles. Her writings often depict life in the Caribbean and explore the complex relationship that France has with its Overseas departments. Her characters often are torn between two places and at least two identities and they must work to understand what it means to be French. Gisèle Pineau has won eleven literary awards for her work, the most recent was Prix du roman historique (2021) for her novel, Ady, Soleil noir (2021). A novel that reconstructs the life of Adrienne Fidelin, a model from Guadeloupe who served as the muse for the likes of Man Ray and Picasso. Through archival research, Pineau sheds light on many of the crucial discussions around French identity happening in France during the 1930s and 40s, and ultimately examines the question of what it means to be French. Although Pineau continues to write, she has also worked simultaneously as a psychiatric nurse since 1979. Gisèle Pineau has recently returned to Guadeloupe after years of living in Paris.

Tessa Mars is a visual artist from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her paintings explore figurative and symbolic languages. Her unique sensibilities are at the crossroads of  baroque, pop, fauvism, naïf, expressionism. Her thematic world hovers around questions of gender, identity, History, Decoloniality, Self, personhood and Afro-Caribbean spiritualities. Tessa's characters represent complex images of emotions, politics, erotics and History. Tessa's paintings are narratives about mythologies, counter-biography and collective identities, centered around Haiti, the wider Caribbean and the Afro-Atlantic experience in a postcolonial world. Tessa Mars's artistic praxis centers around reshaping stories of healing and resistance, self-knowledge and transformative self-creation. After her Bachelor's degree in Visual Arts at Rennes 2 University in France in 2006 she lived and worked in Haiti. Since 2008 she has been represented in dozens of collective and individual expositions in her home country, and across the world, in Belgium (Leuven), Canada (Baie Saint-Paul), Cuba (Havanna), France (Paris), Switzerland (Basel), Trinidad (Port-of-Spain) the U.S (Colorado Springs, Durham, Miami, New-York). She is currently in artistic residency at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, Netherlands.