Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery celebrates Caribbean culture and music

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COURTESY OF ARTHUR ROGERS
Arthur Rogers’ work is part of “The Mas Between Us” exhibition at the Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery from June 25.

Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery will open the exhibition “Le Mas entre nous” as part of the celebration of Caribbean Heritage Month.

The collaborative exhibition, which opens June 25 in the new Center for Visual and Performing Arts, will feature photographs and artwork by Joanne Rogers and her husband Arthur. Together, the couple have created a captivating and colorful collection that showcases the culture and tradition of Caribbean life.

“This exhibition started with my husband Arthur Rogers, a painter and also part of the collection. He often paints Carnival. I started taking pictures for his events and he painted from those pictures. This exhibit is like a second from there,” Joanne said. “We are organizing this exhibition because the Charlotte Caribbean Festival Association is organizing a parade that will start and end at the gallery. We decided to put some of our work in the building to add to the experience that happens outside.

The carnival is known for its lively music and colorful costumes. The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, which inspired the exhibit, has origins dating back to the 18th century when the French brought their own tradition of masked balls to the region. African slaves were not allowed to attend, so they held their own parties in secret and wore costumes intended to mock the French, which led to the creation of “Mas”, a term used to describe today’s carnival costumes.

The real carnival of Trinidad and Tobago includes parades, dancing and vibrant music called Soca. It takes place every year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

” It is a party. What inspires me the most is music. Soca is the soundtrack to Carnival and builds anticipation for the event throughout the year. It’s a kind of music I’m passionate about,” Arthur said. “For me, painting is the only way to find how to share my passion for music with everyone because I am neither a singer nor a performer. I have linked imagery to music and the closest imagery to music is Carnival.

Joanne Rogers, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, became a self-taught photographer after receiving her first camera in high school. In 2011 Arthur gave Joanne a new camera and she started photographing her family, especially her grandsons. Eventually, friends started asking her to cover events.

Today, Joanne is owner and curator of Nine Eighteen Nine and photographer of the Mint Museum, where she takes reference photos for artists.


Arthur Rogers is originally from North Carolina and also has roots in Saint-Eustache and Trinidad. He is executive director of the Visual and Performing Arts Center, resident artist and represented by Nine Eighteen Nine. He has held positions in several design companies, advertising agencies and has been a teacher at the college level. He has skills in several areas, including graphic and web design, videography, photography and painting.

The carnival paintings featured have just returned from another art exhibit at the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center in Virginia. The four-person exhibition “Soul Finger Project” featured works influenced by contemporary black culture that date back to North Africa and the Caribbean. “The Soul Finger Project” is coming to Charlotte in August with several artworks available for purchase.

“Carnival is a celebration of life. People prepare and train all year round for this singular event,” said Arthur. “The event isn’t necessarily just carnival, it’s about celebrating life and being happy, and so that’s what I hope people take away from it.”

The Nine Eighteen Nine gallery is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday or by appointment. “Le Mas entre nous” will run until July 5 with a closing reception at 7:00 p.m. that day. The Uptown Carnival Parade takes place June 25 at 11 a.m. and ends at the Visual and Performing Arts Center on Tryon Street.

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