‘I believe in finding the beauty in things.”
We want to thank you for joining us on this journey as we move from the past, through the present, and are now embarking on our future.
The future is bright, and during this time, communities, young people, and families have clung to the arts to bring a sense of togetherness during this time of increased isolation. We have found ways to use art, whether it is films, television shows, music, or poetry, to combat the anxiety and isolation that we are faced with in our day-to-day lives.
What I have learned is that creativity is the highest form of intelligence; the type of intelligence that cannot be replicated. Every year, a young creative springs out of the abyss, and demonstrates the uniqueness of their being. Our woman of the future Krystal Ball is no exception. She single handedly has ushered in a creative renaissance, that even 15 – 20 years from now, when industries are highly automated, her work will be of high value.
I was first introduced to Krystal’s work through the Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives Contemporary Caribbean Art exhibits early last year. We were at the height of the pandemic, and it was refreshing to see that the museum was doing something to keep the creative art scene going.
I was blown away with how her work captured the imagination. Yes, the colours were vivid; yes she utilized texture, but you could tell that her aim was to elicit a personal reaction from each person who viewed her work. Her art was created to express an idea, the emotions during the time of creation. It made me want to dig deeper, to explain how she had made the piece.
I finally had a chance to speak with Krystal, and when I did, it all began to make sense.
“My personality has grown into being comfortable with my artistic ability.”
“My parents are not the conventional Jamaicans,” Krystal began, “I was more of a parent then my mom was. I was very on top of things.
I started art at a very young age. We didn’t really have art programs at school, but I somehow found a way to exercise my creative abilities.
I think I was 10 years old when I won an international art competition. I only did it because they offered $300.00 for local level, and then you had to compete at an international level and the prize money was $500.00. At 10 years old, $800.00 is a lot of money.
The money wasn’t the best part. I also won a trip to Disneyworld. It was a mind-blowing experience. I was obsessed with Disneyland. It was not part of the package, so I was really surprised when I found out that I was going. They went to my mom, and asked her if there was something that I liked. She was like, Disneyland.
It was an amazing experience. It was nice to see that someone had built a world, and brought it to fruition. He had made it tangible. It was the first time that I travelled. It was the start of a love affair for me. Since then, travelling has become a part of my creative experience.
Krystal told me that she was very much a hustler. She had a lot of drive. She enjoyed doing her best, and her best turned into winning award after award
“I won a few art competitions. I ended up turning art competitions into a full time gig, and I used it to save up for college. It is a good thing that I did so well, because I could not see my parents being able to afford my education.
During high school, I took a break from the competitive art world. Along with painting and creating, I had been speaking at forums. Half the time I wasn’t in class. I was spending so much time with adults that I had some issues speaking with kids in my cohort, but if you put me in a room of adults, I was great.
I got my freedom after high school. I had time to think. What was I doing? What did I want the world to see? It was an internal battle. It took some time to come into myself. Being good at a lot of things is very confusing. My parents weren’t pushing me like that, but other forces were saying, you can do art on the side.”
Those questions made her realize that she was not comfortable with herself. She shared with me that she didn’t do anything that she wanted to do for herself until she was 21.
“I felt like I was living in a cage. A mental cage is a whole lot of work to get out of. It is different from a physical cage. I used art to break out of certain tendencies.”
She began to travel a lot, and she was meeting different people. It was a time she told me, that made her introspective.
Before this transition, I didn’t know who I was. I moved out at 17, and moved to Philadelphia. When I left Jamaica, I realized I didn’t know anything about my country. Tourists began to tell me things about Jamaica, things that I vowed to discover when I returned, so when I came back I rediscovered Jamaica.
Life really began to change for Krystal during all of the Black Lives Matters Protest.
“It became very heavy. Social media can be heavy sometimes. It was a tough time for me.
I had an amazing opportunity that brought me to Manitoulin Island. It was during my Manitoulin island experience that my artistry came back to me. It was amazing to be somewhere, away from the lockdowns, and all the nonsense that surrounded Covid-19. While we were there, my partner came up with a brilliant idea. Since it was lockdown, let’s go back to Jamaica. That is where I got most of my work done. Every time I go back, I view Jamaica with a different lens.
I put up a good fight trying to do other things, but art has always been with me. It has helped me get through a lot of bad situations. It has helped me with my mental health. It has helped me a lot. I also realize that I don’t have to be one-dimensional. There are so many things that I can be doing. I now go where my curiosity lies.”
This is only a snapshot of what lies in the mind of this creative genius. As an artist, she remains steadfast in working, finding some understanding, and envisioning a better world. Krystal has found a way to take in all the pain and struggles that exist in this world, and release beautiful works of art that heal and teach.
Simone Jennifer Smith