Yu cyaan ketch Quaku, yu ketch im shut
February 26 – April 9, 2022
Gallery One
  • Opening
    Saturday February 26, 2022 / 5 – 7pm

Exhibition Text


ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to announce Yu cyaan ketch Quaku, yu ketch im shut, a solo exhibition of new works from Krystle Lemonias in Gallery One. The exhibition opens Saturday, February 26th and continues through Saturday, April 9th, 2022.

For her first exhibition with the gallery, Lemonias presents a series of large-scale fabric works, small framed works, sculpture, installation and performance.

Lemonias’ intradisciplinary practice addresses and intimates the intricacies within Black and people of color immigrant communities that perform most of today’s domestic work. Born in Jamaica, the artist moved to the United States when she was ten years old and her professionally-trained mother took work as a nanny. Lemonias’ childhood experience of this transition, and in the larger context, her newfound understanding of Caribbean people’s resilience to provide for their families while reconstructing some sense of their cultural identity, are central to her practice. Furthermore, her father worked as a labor rights officer at Jamaica’s Ministry of Labor and was an advocate for many people, and she carries on this cause in her activism and through her art.

With her large-scale fabric works presented in this exhibition, Lemonias combines drawing, pattern making, collage, sewing and wood block printing to create densely layered compositions that showcase portraits of domestic laborers captured in their daily routine, situated in richly detailed and dynamic interior spaces. These works are created utilizing upholstery fabric and incorporate discarded and donated materials such as diapers, product packaging and baby clothes, sewn into their amalgamated surfaces.

The artist also presents a series of smaller framed works that reuse the leftover scraps of her larger fabric compositions to create something new. Often, certain items are given to domestic workers by their employees, once they no longer want or need them. These handed down possessions are given new use as the beneficiaries refresh and revive them for their own use. Lemonias has titled this series Wat leff, also referencing the fact that these domestic laborers give nearly all of their energy and existence over to those who they care for, often with little remaining in the day for themselves.

Finally, the artist presents a work entitled Yuh fi wash meh foot an drink de wata. Comprised of a chair and a hand-sewn fabric doll and constructed of diapers, repurposed children’s clothes and infant blankets from her mother’s previous job as a nanny, this work functions both as a stand-alone sculpture and the set piece and apparatus for her corresponding performance. The title refers to a popular saying in Jamaica, expressed when someone feels taken for granted and tries to acknowledge their value to another. It’s often told to children when they are unruly or when they push the boundaries of the hierarchy between parents and working adults. Her performance further explores the tension between parent and child and the later’s desire for identity and sovereignty.

The exhibition’s title, Yu cyaan ketch Quaku, yu ketch im shut, along with the individual work’s titles, are composed in Jamaican Patois. Lemonias’ use of her language very directly illustrates the practice of passing along knowledge in Jamaican households. Procedures are shared through oral communication and action, and domestic skills are mastered overtime during daily routines. This custom is reflected in domestic care work, as immigrants use these various skills acquired as children, later as means of employment. Yu cyaan ketch Quaku, yu ketch im shut translates to, ‘if you cannot catch Quaku (Harry), catch his shirt,’ and can be interpreted to mean that you must be satisfied with what you have, however little it may be, in the hopes of eventually getting all that you want. It has its origins in the unsuccessful capture of Quaco, an escaped slave and rebel, by British soldiers. Here, it describes the hope that must remain in the pursuit of a better life.

KRYSTLE LEMONIAS (Jamaican, b. 1989) lives and works in Tampa, FL. Lemonias received a BFA in printmaking from New Jersey City University in 2018 and will receive her MFA from the University of South Florida in spring 2022. Recent solo exhibitions include Coco Hunday (Tampa FL). Recent group exhibitions include Feminist Future(s) (MIT), Blum and Poe (Los Angeles, CA), Contemporary Art Center New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), Morean Art Center (Tampa, FL), Polk Museum of Art (Lakeland, FL), San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX), International Print Center of New York (New York, NY), BSB Gallery (Trenton, NJ), and the New York Academy of Art (New York, NY). She was a finalist for the AXA Art Prize in 2020 and the XI Catlin Art Prize in 2018. Lemonias recently completed a residency at Gutenberg Arts (NJ) and participated in Frieze NY Viewing Room with ANDREW RAFACZ in 2021. This is her first solo exhibition with the gallery.