Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Dunkley

On Saturday July 21, 2018, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Perspectives on Dunkley at 2:00 pm. Moderated by independent Jamaican curator and writer Nicole Smythe-Johnson who co-curated the critically acclaimed John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition with independent US-based curator Diana Nawi; the discussion will feature presentations by Deborah A. Thomas and Oneika Russell.  

Conceptualized by Smythe-Johnson this panel will include a presentation by her on Dunkley’s significance from an art historical context; a presentation by Deborah A. Thomas on the role of culture in Jamaica’s Nationalist movements, and also a presentation by Oneika Russell from the perspective of an artist with a particular interest in Dunkley and his influence on other artists. This panel serves as part of the programming for the exhibition John Dunkley Neither Day nor Night, as well as its complementary exhibit Daylight come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica.

The critically acclaimed exhibition John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night showcases a once in a lifetime compilation of the work of renowned Jamaican Intuitive artist, John Dunkley (1891-1947) and was originally shown at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Born in Savanna-la-Mar, Dunkley was of the generation of Jamaicans who travelled to Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba at the beginning of the 20th Century seeking opportunities for work and advancement. His moody paintings and whimsical sculptures reflect his life, experiences and views on Jamaica’s fledgling nationalist movement.

Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica acts as a complement to John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night. It explores the themes of tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism during Dunkley’s lifetime. The exhibition contains rare photographs, artifacts and film footage from the turn of the century and shows the move from ethnographic and oftentimes disparaging depictions of Jamaicans, to the attempts at social and cultural empowerment by the Jamaican Cultural Nationalist movement of the early 1900s; providing further context to Dunkley’s creative output.   

Nicole Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator based in Kingston Jamaica. She studied Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies at Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota (BA, 2007) and Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds (MA, 2011). She has written for TerremotoMiami RailFlash ArtJamaica Journal and several other local and international publications. In 2016 she was awarded the inaugural Tilting Axis Curatorial Research Fellowship. She visited Scotland, Grenada, Barbados, Suriname and Puerto Rico, looking at curatorial practice in alternative and artist-run spaces. Currently, she is Acting Editor of Caribbean Quarterly, the University of the West Indies’ flagship journal.

Deborah A. Thomas is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also core faculty in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, holds a secondary appointment with the Graduate School of Education, and is a member of the graduate groups in English, Africana Studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.  She is the author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation:  Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair (forthcoming), Exceptional Violence:  Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), and Modern Blackness:  Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004).

A graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Oneika Russell completed a diploma in the Painting Department before leaving to study at Goldsmiths College in London in the Centre for Cultural Studies in 2003. While at Goldsmiths, Russell began to integrate her deep interest in combining the practice of Painting with New Media. She went on to complete the Doctoral Course in Art at Kyoto Seika University, Japan concentrating on Animation in Contemporary Art.  Russell is currently a lecturer across The Fine Art and Visual Communication Departments at The Edna Manley College.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have an opportunity to view the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition and also Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica both of which close on July 29.  

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