New Roots: Ikem Smith


Ikem Smith is a multimedia artist born in Kingston, Jamaica. He is a recent graduate of the Edna Manley College of The Visual and Performing Arts where he earned his BFA in Visual Communication. He has directed a number of music videos and continues to dabble in music production and animation.

Artist’s Statement

Tools of trade, image and spoken word. Sorting through the stream of information presented to me by the news, the church, my parents and trying respond in ways that I feel right or necessary. This work is my voice and one of my first responses to living life in this young Jamaica at the beginning of the twenty first century.

Curator’s Statement

You hear the beat, you see the images, and your brain begins to process. We have come to take for granted the power of the music video’s integration of sound and image and the impact it has had on our cultural perceptions since the 1980s. The fact is we have become more sophisticated, more demanding, and the video can either make or break a song.

Enter Ikem Smith: an artist and musician whose conceptual works combine both his passions. His songs are at he same time melodic and discordant, informed more by rap and rock than reggae and not what you might typically expect to hear on Jamaican radio, and yet his music and his art represent the current generation whose opinions, like their musical tastes, are more global, informed by their exposure to cable television and the internet and the way in which these media cater to the short attention span.

But he is paying attention, far from being disaffected, he watches and absorbs and navigates the potential sensory overload. Critically dissecting the way the media wants him to think, not only about himself but a country that is winding up its 50th anniversary of Independence. With works like Rain, Sudafed and 2063 he tackles the concerns that will shape his future: violence, greed and, of course, the IMF. And yet in the midst of what could easily be seen as hopelessness in the face of a decidedly dystopian future we see love, we see the need to triumph over adversity, we see the hope for a brighter future.

O’Neil Lawrence

You can read more about Ikem at:


4 thoughts on “New Roots: Ikem Smith

  1. Pingback: New Roots: Introduction | National Gallery of Jamaica Blog

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  3. Pingback: 4 Corners: An Interview with Sindiso Nyoni aka R!OT | visualintellectual

  4. Pingback: 28th July 2013- Day 5 Kingston | beachhouseresidency

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