My father named me River. I think my name has brought me closer to water. When my name is used, it feels as if its not just inside me, but around me, bringing me closer to the element. Like a fish surfacing, the glimpse of the name orally draws me closer to depth.

River Andrews

Exploring the Waves | River Andrews

River Andrews is a multidisciplinary artist, a sailor, and a student. He was born in California, but was raised on the small island of Antigua, in the Caribbean. He grew up near the ocean, and was always transfixed by its movements, which directly influences his work. What he creates flows between photography, fine arts, costume design, and 3-d structures.

I also refer to nature a-lot in my work, and I am constantly inspired by her designs. Through collaboration with nature, we can begin to understand how we came from this earth, and how we need to give back.

What does oneness mean to you? 

To me, oneness is a transferral of energy, from the organic spaces we exist in, bending around, from, and through all living beings. A melting of the self into our origin. It’s the acceptance and presence of a fluid earth, and our place upon it, living as a whole, in a fully interconnected system. We are not apart from nature, but a part of it, and over time language and religion have directed us away from nature, removing ourselves from it. To see ourselves as a part of nature again we must see our relationship to her as relating to ourselves. Only after that we can begin to embrace ‘oneness’. 

Welcoming the vulnerability we can feel in the wilderness. But this wildness is in us, and in surrendering, we must surrender ourselves, a true acceptance of the self as nature. 

Who named you river? Do you think this name related fundamentally to water has shaped your journey towards understanding this element?

My father named me River. I think my name has brought me closer to water. When my name is used, it feels as if its not just inside me, but around me, bringing me closer to the element. Like a fish surfacing, the glimpse of the name orally draws me closer to depth. 

What are your earliest memories of the ocean?

My earliest memories of the ocean are learning to swim on a small beach in Antigua. I remember it inspiring so much curiosity, and feeling so free… the weightlessness from gravity, and energy of the currents pushing and pulling has been something I have enjoyed and searched for ever since. A feeling of being caressed by fluidity, almost as in the womb again…

A lot of your work has elements of fluidity and movement, show casing a sacred connection to water as an ever flowing element on earth. Tell us more about this artistic and sacred relationship of yours with water and fluidity?

To be in the ocean is to be free, not held by anything, encased in a fluidity that is so much harder to search for on land. I feel that water has shaped different moments in my life, from birth, to growth, and it is where I feel at home. I see the ocean as a mother, parts of my own mother in her, a sacred place of being. Feeling like a child of our planet, I am nurtured and carried in the ocean. I also have a deep respect for water, for the element holds a balance, a push and a pull, a danger and a peace. I feel as if I am constantly re-entering that balance when I come into contact with water…

As a queer person, I struggle coming back to the island I am from, which has more traditional beliefs and a culture whose origins stem from a displacement of people and religion, making it hard to accept change. I don’t feel fully accepted on the island, but I do in the sea around it, reflecting my fluidity in its own. I see the ocean and water as a part of myself, and a way of being guided to a safe space and place of freedom. I believe it is reflected in my work, as the fluidity of energy from water is reflected in me, coursing through my blood as it does over the land. It is in us all, and I am forever inspired by it.

Do you look at your work as a way to express, navigate and reflect on what can be viewed as a documentation of your own inner revealings and growth in your personal journey to the self.

I see my work as a ‘listening’, to the world around me, and to myself. I try to understand our place in the environments we cohabitate in, and my place as a human absorbing my experiences and surroundings. I liked the use of the word ‘navigation’ in your question. As a sailor, I understand the time and depth of a navigation, a journey across a part of the world, and liken that journey to the internal odyssey we all go through to grow. As an artist, this exploration and documentation seems to be constantly transferred through different forms of my expression. I see the body as a vessel, holding the lived experiences of the person inside, and I try and translate those experiences.

Given the current climate catastrophe how can we hope for resilience through fluidity of water?

In our current climate, we can generate hope through fluidity of water as it shows us a way of being that is more organic than the structures we have created to live. It shows us a fluid state of being, of navigating our society and its problems, but also draws us back to our origin.

All life came from the sea, and we need to see ourselves the same as the rest of life on this planet, embracing the groundedness this inhabits. We can enter a society closer to nature, closer to the fluidity that sustains life on this planet. Everything flows, we must embrace that.

River Andrews @rivers.oceans

Interview by Nidhi Bhati @ekbhuliguftgu

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