Yoland Skeete-Laessig is a Newark, NJ based artist of Caribbean descent. She is co-founder of the Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center in Newark, one of Newark’s leading artist run alternative spaces which she ran from 1993 to 2015. Under her leadership the organization received awards and recognition from New York Foundation For The Arts and New Jersey State Council on the Arts as well as the City Of Newark, for outstanding cultural contributions and arts programming.
Ms. Skeete immigrated to the US as a child, attended the School Of Visual Arts for undergraduate studies in film, video and photography, continued and completed her graduate studies at Tufts University/MIT Graduate program in Anthropological Filmmaking under Jean Rouche, and received an MFA at Hunter College. She is certified in the business of Arts Administration from Seton Hall University and has been adjunct professor at Rockland Community College, Raritan Valley Community College, New Jersey City University and Rutgers University, Newark until 2009.
Ms. Skeete has been a documentarian, and artist for as long as she can remember. Although making her living in photography and film, her personal work is a ritual of how life is experienced utilizing any and every medium to accomplish her goals. Ms. Skeete has exhibited her video and photography and multimedia installations in galleries and museums in the US and abroad including the Museum of Modern Art, the Queens Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, Museum of Contemporary Arts and Crafts in New York City, Biblioteque Nacional de Paris and The Musee D’Art Moderne De La Ville De Paris, Husby Konsthalle, Stockholm, Sweden, and Estesio Gallery, Beddingstrande, Sweden.
Ms. Skeete’s photographs and video work are in the print collection of the Museum of Modern Art, African American Museum of Life and Culture, Dallas, Texas, Carolyn Alexander of Alexander Bonin Gallery in Chelsea, and American Express Corporation. She has been a recipient of the Glide Memorial Grant, The Graff Travel Grant, The New Jersey Council on the Humanities Grant and the Melon Grant distributed through New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Humanities program. She has been an Artist in Residence at Art In General, The Arts Council of the Essex Area, and has received educational grants and awards for her work with youth and media. She continues to exhibit her work locally, nationally and internationally. In 2012 she participated in the exhibition “A BILHA PROJECTO DE ARTE. CELEBRA O DIA DE PORTUGAL DE CAMÕES E DAS COMUNIDADES PORTUGUESAS NEWARK” which toured the US and is permanently housed in the Bilha Museum in Portugal.
Also an author, in 2016 Ms. Skeete’s “When Newark Had a Chinatown: My Personal Journey” was published. The book is a product of the artist’s own research into a time when the city of Newark, NJ had a thriving Chinese community.