NGJ Summer Exhibition 2019: Dawn Scott Award

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the third edition of the Dawn Scott Memorial Award, which will be presented to an artist participating in its National Gallery of Jamaica Summer Exhibition 2019 (the award was formerly part of the Jamaica Biennial). The show will open on Sunday, July 28, and remain on view through October 27, 2019.

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The Jamaican artist Alison Dawn Scott (1951-2010) and the art critic Edward M. Gómez in Kingston, in 2003Photo credit: ©2019 Ballena Studio, Inc.

The Dawn Scott Memorial Award, which comes with a monetary prize, is a private initiative sponsored by the New York-based, internationally known art critic, art historian, and curator Edward M. Gómez to honour the memory and legacy of his close friend and colleague, the late Jamaican artist Alison Dawn Scott (1951-2010). Gómez himself will examine the artworks on view in the 2019 Summer Exhibition and from them choose a work of art and its creator to honour with the award. The prize will be announced during the exhibition’s opening ceremony at the National Gallery of Jamaica on Sunday, July 28.

The award is funded by Gómez and Dawn Scott’s daughter, Tsehai “Spoogie” Scott, a Kingston-based businesswoman and film-production specialist.

In 2014, the artists Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford were named the recipients of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award. In 2017, the honour was shared by the Jamaican painters Greg Bailey and Alicia Brown, and by the mixed-media artist Andrea Chung, who is of Jamaican and Trinidadian ancestry and is based California, U.S.A.

Gómez, who worked in the cultural service of the Embassy of the United States in Kingston in the 1980s, has close personal and professional ties to Jamaica and its vibrant arts community. He has written and published numerous articles and essays about Jamaican artists, including the legendary Jamaican Intuitives, which helped introduce their achievements to broad, international audiences. In 2006, he delivered opening remarks at the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Intuitives III exhibition and wrote an essay for its accompanying catalogue.

Gómez says, “The Dawn Scott Memorial Award recognizes the creativity and originality of the work of an artist taking part in the NGJ Summer Exhibition 2019. In keeping with the artistic and philosophical principles that distinguished Dawn Scott’s thinking, teaching, art-making and activism, in selecting a winner of the award, I will look for proficiency and innovation in the artist’s handling of his or her materials, fresh ideas about the expressive power of art, and a sense of courage in the way the artist addresses his or her subject matter.”

Currently the senior editor of Raw Vision, the London-based, international magazine about outsider art and the work of self-taught artists, and a senior critic for the culture magazine Hyperallergic, Gómez has written for the New York Times, the Japan Times (Japan), Reforma (Mexico), and many other publications, including Art & Antiques, Art in America, ARTnews, Art + Auction, Metropolis, and Folk Art. He is the author or co-author of numerous books and exhibition catalogues.

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Dawn Scott, A Cultural Object (1985); detail of a mixed-media work in the collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica Photo credit: National Gallery of Jamaica

In her own work, Scott was known for her fine craftsmanship and draughtsmanship. Using the wax-resist batik process on fabric, she produced emblematic portraits and scenes of Jamaican rural and urban life. In 1985, Scott created one of Jamaican contemporary art’s most influential mixed-media installation works, A Cultural Object, which the National Gallery of Jamaica later acquired. An artistic response to some of the same themes that had been percolating in Jamaican popular music and poetry, this bold work, which has had a strong impact on later generations of local artists, recreates a section of an inner-city neighbourhood. It addresses some of Jamaican and Caribbean society’s most enduring social and economic challenges.

During the last phase of her multifaceted career, Dawn Scott worked with the Kingston-based firm Kingston 10 Architects Ltd on commercial and residential buildings for which she provided original design details. Among them: decorative fretwork based on traditional Caribbean motifs, wall-painting and flooring schemes, and landscaping. Scott, who also worked as an educator, was an active participant in National Gallery of Jamaica exhibitions and regarded the museum as one of the country’s most important cultural institutions.

Gómez says, “With the Dawn Scott Memorial Award, I wish to honour the memory of a very talented Jamaican artist and friend who contributed substantively to the cultural life of her country. At the same time, by means of this award, I would like Jamaican artists to know that their work and that of the National Gallery of Jamaica are worthy of serious, international critical attention. This award helps to convey that kind of recognition, which is most deserved.”

The Dawn Scott Memorial Award is one of two awards attached to the 2019 Summer Exhibition, along with the Aaron Matalon Award, which is awarded to an artist who, in the view of the National Gallery’s Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committees, has contributed the strongest entry to the exhibition. This award will also be announced at the exhibition’s opening ceremony on Sunday, July 28.

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