With an eye-catching and decidedly street take on themes and treatments, art group Stoak’d is keen to widen the view of what constitutes contemporary art in Cayman.
The trio, made up of Marc and Pam Laurenson and Kevin Mounsor, first set up business earlier this year, encouraged by the reaction that they were getting about their artwork on Facebook, their website and in shows.
The team members, who hail from Cayman, Honduras and the United Kingdom, embody a dynamic that is reflected in their work, which tends to be quirky and poster-like, with references to pop culture, films and cartoons. Stoak’d’s art is unapologetically strident with iconic and graphic imagery. The collective’s influences are diverse and include Walt Disney, Andy Warhol and graphic designer/illustrator Shepard Fairey of Obey Giant Art (the creator of Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster).
“We enjoy interpreting iconic figures because it’s the kind of art that transcends the barriers of age, class and ethnicity,” said Marc.
Not content to confine themselves to only creating art destined for residential and corporate spaces, the group also has hip T-shirt designs, caps and decals for the masses using computer software programs.
They only do work they enjoy, and push themselves and each other to try things they have never attempted before, such as recycled art.
One such piece is “Better Half,” made by Marc out of metal beer steins and Coca Cola cans. He used the latter specifically because they had slogans on them like: “Lover,” “Sister,” “Better Half” and “Sidekick” on them. The 6-foot x 4-foot piece was made for his wife while she was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, “to boost her confidence and make her feel beautiful,” he explained. It was one of the pieces Stoak’d exhibited at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands group show “An Autobiography In Vivid Color!” in July and August of this year.
Pam is now cancer-free and the couple are expecting their first child this month. The portrait, which will never be sold, has taken pride of place in their home.
Having enjoyed a modest underground following until recently, Stoak’d cites their first solo exhibition at Full of Beans as a crucial turning point in increased sales and interest from the public.
As their different backgrounds suggest, the trio, like their multimedia pieces, are an arresting mix of the familiar and the unexpected with images that would not look out of place on a billboard, or as graffiti art.
Using a range of techniques including the use of digital software like Illustrator and Photoshop to enhance their work, the group is gaining a strong brand following locally.
The devil’s in the details
Pam, with her graphic designer background, focuses largely on painting portraiture with a photographic point of view. Her strength she feels is in being “determined, patient and realistic.”
She also brings “details, shades and more of the softer side to Stoak’d.”
Her “Cayman Kiss” painting took third place in the Caybrew 2015 Calendar Competition. She cites James Gill and Aaron Smith as being enormous influences on her work.
When it comes to exhibiting, Marc generally sets the theme while each member of the group has total autonomy within that framework, making Stoak’d more than the sum of its parts.
“We tend to agree on a common theme and then divide the work so that we get three different styles which work in harmony,” Pam explained.
Outside of the shows, they draw inspiration from many sources.
Pushing the boundaries
For Kevin, who unlike his partners has no formal arts or graphic design background, creativity is expressed in exploring “anything from cartoon, fantasy and pop art to underwater wildlife.”
Seen in his use of saturated color combinations and most recently in the use of inks, he makes each subject his own by adding graphic twists and overt street culture references.
Kevin views digital art and inks as his strongest media types. He has also started experimenting with spray painting and likes developing the exacting technical skills and discipline inking requires.
“I’m very proud of each of the inks because there is no room for error. If there is a brush stroke out of place or wrong amount of ink then it’s just better to start all over again than try to fix it.”
Collaboration is key
The trio, who do not even share studio space since the Laurensons live in George Town and Kevin is based in East End, have a highly idiosyncratic way of working.
“We each understand the different strengths in our artwork. One central idea behind the Stoak’d brand is that it is different and new; something you don’t see every day here in Cayman,” he said.
An example of how they have worked to bring a new element to local art is their first show, called “Super Heroes” at Full of Beans. Pam and Marc had a comic action and romance idea with him painting the action shot, while Pam painted the romantic interaction of the characters.
As the artists have full-time jobs outside the art world, between shows the trio focuses on producing and marketing their images which they sell at the Farmers’ Market in Camana Bay and at Visual Arts Society events.
Stoak’d is booked to exhibit at Full of Beans in June and July next year and would like to have another exhibition at the National Gallery in 2016.
Kevin manages Stoak’d’s marketing and updates content to both their Facebook page facebook.com/stoakd and on the stoakdcayman.com website.