C&AL: Who is Gwladys Gambie?
Gwladys Gambie: I am a young, discreet, mysterious artist, with dreams. I have been drawing since I was a child. Initially, I wanted to be a designer. I ended up studying Fine Arts, but I continue to be connected to fashion and textiles, and I recently started embroidering. Not having become a designer could be considered a failure, but as an artist I am able to realize that dream more freely. Also, I am very shy, and art is a way for me to express myself. As a suburban, overweight black woman the path has not been easy. I almost left Art school and today I am happy that I did not give up because the setbacks have fueled my creativity. I know very well what I don’t want, and that is what guides me.
C&AL: Tell me a little about self-representation – your feminist stance around your body and the fusion between body and nature.
GG: Working with my own body has allowed me to assert myself. My practice is to question my body as an overweight black woman in a society where overweight women are outside the norms of sensuality, beauty, and eroticism. I emphasize that body, which could be the body of any overweight woman. The fusion between body and landscape in the series Anatomie du sensible (Anatomy of the Sensible) occurs naturally because human beings are not separate from nature. My poetic language was established in this way. That is what allows me to approach sensuality without being literal, incorporating organic forms, like flowers, plants, and marine animals. As a woman, my relationship with nature is very intimate. There is a closeness with the sea, the idea of the womb. I would not call myself feminist because I am not militant, but my artistic work is engaged, including my use of the Creole language in my drawings, to assert Martinican culture. The feminine bodies in my works are attractive and frightening at the same time. The ambivalence between seduction and violence is an expression of my rejection of the system. As an overweight black woman, I am made invisible, discriminated against. Even when it comes to love, we are the objects of sexual attraction, rarely the objects of socially accepted love relationships. Add to that the colorism and daily violence against women in a society dominated by men. I am driven by social criticism; poetics is what allows me to avoid depiction and the obvious in my practice.