Canvassing the Body and Soul of the Caribbean

By Tina Escobedo

Magazine excerpt of Island Temptations

Artist Vanessa Paulina documents the soul of her Caribbean memories through art.

“No serene landscapes for this island girl with Rasta tresses and hand-painted jeans. It’s the soul illuminating from her human subject that Paulina tries to capture.“

“And just who is Vanessa Paulina and what made her who she is? She grew up in an era before the tourism boom made its way through the Caribbean to Aruba. Packs of roaming donkeys and children playing barefoot games of catch the chicken were the norm. It was a time on the island that lacked prosperity but revealed a close-knit community comprised of intimate fishing villages and blue-collar towns. This was a place where neighborhood barber shops bustled on Saturday afternoons, and no one bothered to lock their doors. Sundays were a family day. The artist fondly remembers when her policeman dad and homemaker mom would take her and her two brothers and two sisters to the beach. Many other days were reserved just for her and her sister Shanella and hours of playing dress-up and with their Barbie dolls.�?

“Paulina was not born with a silver spoon, but instead took to a crayon, pencil, piece of charcoal, or whatever she could use as an instrument of expression. Paulina has had a passion for art for as long as she can remember. “I just could not stop drawing when I was a kid. It was something I could do by my self—my great escape into my own world. I remember staying up in my bed and drawing all night long, almost to the point of exhaustion.�?

“And so the obsession continued. Off to Holland when she was a teenager, Paulina received an art degree from The Willem De Koning Academy of Art in Rotterdam.”

“Her artistic flair also helped pay the bills. Finding more instant monetary gratification in fashion than with painting, she has worked as a freelance stylist for magazines and television in Holland. She has even designed her own clothes for small boutiques there. “I guess all those hours playing dress-up with my sister primed me for this part of my career.�?

“Although Paulina spends most of her time in Europe, of late she has been on a spiritual journey of sorts. She is rediscovering her roots and childhood memories. Many of her paintings are reflective of her Indian-African heritage and life as she remembers it in a pre-tourism Caribbean. It’s a free-spirited life she wants to capture and share.�?

Want to read the whole article? Visit the Island Temptations website.