We had the good fortune of connecting with Kearra Amaya Gopee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kearra Amaya, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My work-life balance has been impacted by a number of factors over time. There is a direct correlation between my growing love for self and the time I spend working–at least on administrative tasks. When I was younger and found it hard to think of anything but survival, I simply did not have the time to consider myself or my health and well-being. Now, I find that I can often get far more work done when I tend to my own spiritual/mental/physical health first. Another major change came from understanding that as an artist, I do not have to subscribe to the 8 hour work day. Understanding that it is the quality of the work that matters as opposed to time spent behind my laptop has been critical. I’m not perfect at maintaining this, but I try my best.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m an anti-disciplinary artist thinking with and through violence as it occurs in the Anglophone Caribbean. and its diasporas. Using a variety of media, I think about both its destructive and generative possibilities over time. I also am in the process of developing an artist residency for Black artists and cultural workers in Trinidad and Tobago. Currently, I host focus groups wherein Black artists share their experiences with residencies and we collectively determine places we’d love to see and thrive in. I am not wealthy, so a physical manifestation of this residency is far in the future, but for now, my research lives on asmall.place. If you are Black and reading this, send me a message for the password to access it!
In my practice, I am most proud of my ability to stay the course. Sometimes, I can take a year to make one video and I’m learning how to give myself grace about that. The reality is that when one is low-income; has multiple jobs; is often ill; and is also in graduate school, work is going to happen much more slowly and that is alright.
It was not easy getting here. Continued support from my friends is how I keep moving, but also how I keep still–they encourage me to rest when I’d rather not.
The majority of my work lies in strengthening my connections with community both here and abroad and that takes a lot of effort on both sides. The important part is that we choose to be there regardless.
The most important questions I’ve come across in my practice is this: In a field that functions primarily on a scarcity model, how can one work against those logics in their own practices and lives? How do we work against replicating this model interpersonally?
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Whew. Admittedly, I haven’t found my LA sweet spot yet, but I do enjoy the Huntington.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Ooo, this is such a long list but to keep it brief, big up to my chosen family in both the US and Trinidad and Tobago. For their endless patience but more importantly, for teaching me that love isn’t without a constant negotiation of boundaries in response to our growth and needs. To be honest, I prefer a notion of an expansive love to an unconditional one, and that’s what I feel I am honoured to both receive and give. Furthermore, I am so grateful to the ones who see value in the work that I do and show up even when there’s no call to action. Just on vibes.
Courtesy the artist.