Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Introduction

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The Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, May 31 and as is now customary, we will be posting the exhibition text panels and other exhibition-related material over the next few days. Here is the first such post, the general introduction to the exhibition:

Seven Women Artists is the third in the National Gallery’s Explorations series, which explores major themes and issues in Jamaican art, and asks whether notions about women’s art are relevant in the Jamaica context. This question is asked with new and recent work by seven mid-career female artists, who live and work in Jamaica or are from Jamaica: Kereina Chang Fatt, Miriam Hinds-Smith, Amy Laskin, Prudence Lovell, Berette Macaulay, Judith Salmon, and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan.

The feminist movement produced major activist challenges to what had been a significant blind spot in the dominant art historical narratives: the marginalization of female artists and of what could be defined as “women’s art.” This campaign was spearheaded by feminist art historians such as Linda Nochlin and activist groups such as Guerilla Girls and has extended globally, into many different socio-cultural contexts. As a result, women artists are now receiving more recognition in art-historical and institutional narratives but the project is far from complete and women artists are still at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts, in terms of the dynamics of recognition and exposure.

Feminist art activists have argued that a major reason why female artists have been marginalized is that much of what they have historically produced does not fit dominant notions about “fine art.” The response to this has involved reclaiming and validating such “women’s work” and many feminist artists have embraced traditional “craft” media such as embroidery and quilting. Another area of feminist art activism has involved challenging the dominant representations of women in mainstream art, which have typically reflected male perspectives, and representing female themes from an assertively “female” perspective. This has involved at times provocative representations of female sexuality and the female body that illustrate the extent to which the personal is the political in this context. Such politicized conceptions of “women’s art” have however also been critiqued by those who feel that this pigeonholes female artists, who should be empowered to claim any artistic theme or medium they wish to pursue, without being tied down or defined by their gender. Continue reading

Last Sundays, May 31, 2015: featuring Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, Tanya Shirley and Kelissa

Explorations 3 cover

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present its new exhibition, Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, which opens to the public on Sunday, May 31, 2015, as part of the Last Sundays programme for that day. The guest speaker will be Taynia Shirley and there will be a musical performance by Kelissa.

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, the third edition of a series of exhibitions that explore the big themes and issues in Jamaican art, asks the question whether any concept of women’s art is relevant in Jamaica today. This exhibition, which was curated by National Gallery Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features the work of seven mid-career female artists who are based in Jamaica or of Jamaican origin and work in a variety of media: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Judith Salmon, Miriam Hinds-Smith, Prudence Lovell, Kereina Chang Fatt, Berette Macaulay and Amy Laskin. Viewers are invited to explore whether there are any commonalities that set these artists’ works and careers apart from those of their male counterparts and whether there is any justification to label them as “women artists.” Each of the featured artists has produced a statement on the subject that will be reproduced in the catalogue and the exhibition text panels. More information on this exhibition can be found on the National Gallery blog.

The poet-scholar Tanya Shirley has been described as “a startlingly bold writer with a particular gift for highlighting the telling detail in her vivid and arresting poems, which variously contain portraits of lovers, colourful eccentrics and family snapshots that capture the elusive magic of childhood memories, and reveal those paradoxical truths which all families strive to conceal.” She was educated at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she now teaches between time spent elsewhere in the Caribbean and the United States, and she obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She has published her poetry in journals such as Small Axe and The Caribbean Writer, and in New Caribbean Poetry: An Anthology, which was edited by Kei Miller, and So Much Things to Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Her debut collection, She Who Sleeps With Bones, was published in 2009 and she recently launched her second poetry collection, The Merchant of Feathers.

Kelissa McDonald was born and raised in the hills of St Andrew, Jamaica and was inspired from early on by reggae and Rastafari. With her parents as the lead vocalists in the reggae band Chakula, there was constantly music pulsating from her home. Her music has evolved into an expression of her background as well her stimulating living experiences in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana. At the moment, Kelissa resides in Jamaica where she continues to make positive and conscious music as an avenue to express her diverse experiences and to inspire and uplift others.

Admission on Sunday, August 31, 2015 is free but donations are gratefully accepted. The doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm but the opening speech and musical performance will start at 1:30 pm. The National Gallery gift and coffee shop will be open. Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists will be on view at the National Gallery until August 8, 2015.

Looking Back – the Jamaica Biennial 2014

We are pleased to present this exciting short video documentary which was contributed by Tristan Galand. It reflects on the 2014 Jamaica Biennial, which was in its closing week when the footage was shot, and  focuses on four artists, Camille Chedda, Sheena Rose, Phillip Thomas and Ebony G. Patterson, who present their reflections on the exhibition. With thanks to Tristan Galand and all who helped to facilitate this production, particularly Nicole Smythe-Johnson.

Coming Up – Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists

The Explorations III: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which will open at the NGJ on Sunday, May 31, asks the question whether any concept of women’s art is relevant in Jamaica today – it is part of our Explorations series, which examines the big themes and issues in Jamaican art, the first of which was Natural Histories (2013) and the second: Religion and Spirituality in Jamaican art.

Seven Women Artists, which is curated by Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features the work of seven mid-career female artists who live in Jamaica or art part of its diaspora and who work in a variety of media: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Judith Salmon, Miriam Smith, Prudence Lovell, Kereina Chang-Fatt, Berette Macaulay and Amy Laskin – a small but representative sample of accomplished female Jamaican artists. We invite viewers to explore whether there are any commonalities that set these artists’ work and careers apart from those of their male counterparts and whether there is any justification to label them, individually or collectively, as “women artists,” or their work as “women’s art.” We have also asked each of the artists to produce a statement on the subject that will be reproduced in the catalogue and the exhibition text panels.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - None but Ourselves (2015)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – None but Ourselves (2015)

The sculptural and sometimes wearable work of jeweller Jasmine Thomas-Girvan explores the complexities of Jamaican and Caribbean histories as well as the cultural implications of those histories.    Her spectacularly surreal assemblages often employ or are inspired by naturally occurring plant matter and oftentimes actively utilise found objects that have a personal resonance with the artist. Her work None but Ourselves references the intellectual legacy of Marcus Garvey highlighting the importance of the transmission of liberating values to the next generation.

Judith Salmon - Pockets of Memory (2012)

Judith Salmon – Pockets of Memory (2012)

The dynamics of memory are at the heart of the installation and assemblage work of Judith Salmon. Salmon who creates work that has, in some instances, involved an element of interactivity for instance Pockets of Memory (which invited viewers to leave notes or other things that had personal significance and made the audience a part of the creative process) explores the way in which memories are preserved obscured or lost over time. She utilises fibre, wax and various printmaking techniques to create work that contains multiple conceptual and also physical layers.

Miriam Smith - Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith – Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith is known for her mixed media artwork prioritised by her manipulation of fibres and textiles. Her work also reflects her experience of bookbinding, some in the form of actual books are often symbolic pages weaving a personal history that highlights life changing experiences but is also at its heart very much concerned with historical and contemporary social injustices. The multi-panelled work Justice Denied…1600 and Still Counting reflects that focus and challenges the viewer to do the same.

Prudence Lovell - Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell, an artist who’s widely ranging concerns coalesce in a number of stunning drawings and collages. To paraphrase her own words Lovell explores ‘the history and potential for allusion’ found in art as well as the various ‘truths’ found in documentary images. The ambiguities and disjunctions that occur due to the immediacy of photographic and other digital imagery and seeming reliability of these images and the often result in a rupture between perception and reality. Her most recent work, such as Untitled (Connected II), is based on Skype conversations with her children, who are studying overseas, and address the moderated reality of online connections, in terms of the ambiguities of the simultaneous experiences and realities of proximity and distance. Continue reading

Celebrate Mothers

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Show your Mother how special she is this Mother’s Day with exquisite gifts from the National Gallery of Jamaica Gift Shop. To help you express your love and gratitude, we are offering 5 – 15% off purchases over $5,000, plus a FREE gift for you.

We are excited to share with you some of the gift options available in time for May 10.

Gift shop cards

Art Greeting Cards:

The Gift Shop carries a wide variety of blank greeting cards with art works from celebrated artists including: Barrington Watson, Herbie Rose, Edna Manley and Milton Messam. Personalise your Mother’s Day gift with a message on one of our art cards.

jewellery display

Handmade Fine Jewellery:

We have an assortment of unique handmade jewellery to suit all budgets and styles. Pamper your Mother with eye-catching pieces from our jewellery collection that includes pieces from talented Jamaican Designers/Goldsmiths: Reve, Purple Jade, Patchwork Lily, Carol Campbell and The Girl and the Magpie. Continue reading

“Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art” Exhibition to Open at National Gallery West on May 8

Originally posted on National Gallery West:

Xaymaca e-invite

National Gallery West, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s new branch at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, is pleased to present its new exhibition, Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art, which is scheduled to open to the public on Friday, May 8.

Taking the Taino name for the island of Jamaica, which translates as “land of wood and water,” as its point of departure, the Xaymaca exhibition celebrates the spectacular natural beauty of Jamaica, seen through the eyes of Jamaican and visiting artists from the colonial period to the present, but also acknowledges how nature and the land carry the baggage of history and contemporary politics. The exhibition features major works from the National Gallery of Jamaica collection and comprises four sections: plantation era art, with paintings and prints by George Robertson, J.B. Kidd, James Hakewill and John Eaves; early and twentieth photography by A…

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