Back to scratch

by Shawn Cumberbatch

leisureadoinscratchartIn Barbados the name Danny Diallo Hinds is synonymous with rhythm.

These days, however, the former National Cultural Foundation Cultural Officer is dancing to the beat of a different drum so to speak, doing what he loves and is best known for in Kansas City, Missouri in the United States.

And in recent times, due in large measure to his interaction with friends and others on Facebook, audiences here, the US and elsewhere have been learning more about Hinds the visual artist – talented pencil scratch artist to be exact.

From Nelson Mandela to Errol Barrow, Adonijah to Haile Selassie, Michael Jackson to Rihanna, images of local and international personalities have emerged on paper with each stroke of this veteran dancer and drummer’s treasured graphite pencil.

Having now done 160 pieces of his treasured creations, this former Speightstown boy, whose love for art emerged during his school days in the St. Peter district, is determined to make the most of this gift.

Hinds, who “moved back” to the US in 2011 “to work as Director of Culture and Performing/Visual Arts, and Teacher with The Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus” told Bajan Vibes his scratch art story.

“I started learning to draw from my primary school days at the Speightstown Boys School in Barbados, but was not really encouraged to pursue it as a career, so after I finish school I only draw when there is a lull in my life. I later discovered many other areas of my life that associated with various artistic mediums and realised that I was created to be an artist,” he recalled.

“However, dance, drama and music took centre stage in my life while drawing took a back seat for about 30 years until about five years ago. While teaching dance and fitness training in St. Lucia I created a few pieces and an artist friend of mine saw them and said I should take it serious and she give me a set of Graphite pencils to use instead of the #2 lead pencil and from then on I kept practising to this day.”

The Barbadian, who lives and breathes the arts, said beyond simply using the talents he was blessed with, he saw his pencil art, like his dancing and drumming, as an avenue to relate what in many instances were still untold stories.

leisurechattelhouseinscratchart“My choices of work stems from the teacher inside of me, I realised that our people do not know their history so I’ve decided to scratch global images of various icons in our historic journey so serve as an educational tool,” he said.

Thankfully for the Founder and Artistic Director of Ayotunde, a multiple performing arts company, this aspect of his life has not gone unnoticed, certainly not in Kansas.

“In recent times I have been given the biggest boost of my life in terms of my scratch art skills here in the US. I have received support from the Art Department of the Kansas City Kansas Community College. They have commissioned me to create an art piece for them and are about to commission me for a much bigger job,” Hinds shared.

“They have also allowed me to exhibit my art and sell prints to the community at a recent county festival. I also have a contracted buyer of five prints per month from a member of that same art department.

“Recently I have been offered opportunities to setup and display my prints at various festivals, they have attracted lots of attention and from time to time some buyers.”

And while he knows it is often said that many Barbadians only appreciate their own after they are embraced by foreigners, Hinds is hopeful his recently established Facebook page Scratch Art Blk-Stories, publish works and an exhibition he plans to hold here will disprove this view.

“As for the recent posting of my work on Facebook, the response has been overwhelming and most encouraging from people across the globe, in particular people of Barbados who mostly know me as a performing artist. Some have already offer their services to assist me in any way possible for me to exhibit my work in Barbados, some persons have also approached the NCF to look into making it possible. I am very thankful for all the wonderful and motivating comments from everyone on Facebook,” he said proudly.

“It would be a great pleasure to be able to have that opportunity to showcase my art in Barbados, and I am reaching out to all those parties directly involved with making this a possibility, like the curator of the Art Gallery in Queen’s Park and the Visual Arts Officer, both of the National Cultural Foundation. I have also reached out to other business individuals for financial assistance to frame, package, transport and mount the work in Barbados.

“The exhibition will be in the format of a historic timeline of images ranging from Afrika to the diaspora, these images will serve the purpose of teaching world history which is rooted in Afrikan history.

I also intend to later produce a series of books entitled Scratch Art Black Stories. The book series will be produced to serve the purpose of teaching our story,” he added.

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