The National Gallery of Jamaica wishes to pay tribute to Professor Emeritus Barry Chevannes, the Chair of our parent organization, the Institute of Jamaica, who passed away yesterday.
Barry Chevannes was a social anthropologist and was attached to the University of the West Indies since 1973, most recently as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He was an authority on Rastafari and his publications on the subject include Rastafari: Roots and Ideology and the edited volume Rastafari and Other Caribbean Worldviews. Professor Chevannes’ academic interests translated into many areas public service and social activism, as the founder of Father’s Incorporated and Partners for Peace, and as the chair of National Commission on Ganja, among other contributions. He was appointed Chairman of the Institute of Jamaica Council in 1997.
As the Chairman of the Institute of Jamaica Professor Chevannes’ vision of Caribbean culture helped to shape institutions such as the National Gallery into what they are today. He was a regular presence at National Gallery events and exhibitions and a source of counsel on matters pertaining to popular art and culture, race and gender and, of course, Rastafari. We were particularly grateful for his input into exhibitions such as Black as Colour (1998), which he also opened; The Rainbow Valley: Everald Brown, A Retrospective (2004); and Intuitives III (2007). He was also the keynote speaker at the Gallery’s 2007 forum on Intuitive Art, Art for Life’s Sake, and the guest speaker at the opening of the exhibition Isaac Mendes Belisario: Art and Emancipation in 2008. Barry Chevannes also contributed to the field of music, as a song composer and a singer, acclaimed for his excellent baritone.
The Board and National Gallery wishes to present their condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Professor Barry Chevannes.