Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Hope Brooks

Hope Brooks – Goat Island For A Marine Park, 2016

The work by Hope Brooks in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 is on view at the NGJ on the Kingston Waterfront, one of three locations for this year’s Biennial, which continues until May 28.

Hope Brooks was born in 1944, in Kingston, Jamaica. She attended the Edinburgh College of Art and holds an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. In 1968 she began teaching in the Painting Department of the Jamaica School of Art (now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts) and became its Director. She later served as Vice Principal of Academic and Technical Studies of the Edna Manley College. Mainly active as a mixed media painter, her early work poetically reflected on nature but her recent work has more explicit political overtones, commenting on a variety of social and historical issues. Brooks has exhibited extensively throughout her career, both locally and internationally and is represented in numerous public and private collections. Some of her most notable shows have in included People and Their Stories–Then and Now (2011) at the Mutual Gallery, Kingston, and Modern Jamaican Art Through the Works of Six Female Artists exhibition (2005), at the Grand Valley State University, Michigan, USA. She was awarded both the Centenary Medal in 1980 and the Silver Musgrave Medal in 1995, by the Institute of Jamaica. Brooks lives in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Hope Brooks – Goat Island For A Marine Park, 2016 (detail, Suite IV)

Natural Histories: Hope Brooks, Slavery Trilogy

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Hope Brooks’ Slavery Trilogy is a combination of three series: (from left to right) Kings and Princes, Backra Pickney and Trilogy. The work explores the history and development of racial identities, imposed and self-chosen, in the context of the African Diaspora. Originally the artist presented the work with extended text labels that provided extensive reference material about the slave trade and the experience of the enslaved as well as the verbal vocabulary that evolved from this context. Of particular interest is a list of ethnic slurs taken from Wikipedia, one for each letter of the alphabet.

The grid installation and repetition of the work with its subtle variations in facial expression and colour spectrum also recall the Casta paintings of colonial Latin America. Casta is the origin of the English word “caste”, the paintings were common in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in Mexico, where they were used to depict and classify the various racial categories and mixtures. Casta paintings were not merely artistic exploration, they shaped people’s social experience significantly. The racial groupings they depicted had an accompanying set of privileges and restrictions, both legal and customary.

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Anonymous - Las castas (18th century), oil on canvas, 148x104 cm, Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlán, Mexico.

Anonymous – Las castas (18th century), oil on canvas, 148×104 cm, Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlán, Mexico.

National Biennial 2012: Artists Talk, Monday March 11

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present a talk featuring artists in the 2012 National Biennial on Monday March 11, which will also be the ultimate opportunity to see this critically acclaimed exhibition before it is dismounted.

The talk will talk the form of a walk through the exhibition, during which participating artists will give insights into their work and the work of other artists, and take questions, The artists giving this tour are: Storm Saulter, Duane Allen, Hope Brooks and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – who was the winner of the Aaron Matalon Award for the most outstanding submission to the exhibition. This special programme will start at 11:00 a.m. Students are especially encouraged to attend.

To facilitate this programme and to accommodate more casual visitors, the Gallery, which is normally closed to the public on Mondays, will exceptionally be open from 10 am – 2:30 pm Monday’s programme will be the absolute last opportunity to see the National Biennial, which was scheduled to close on March 9but has been held over on March 10 and 11 by popular demand.

Please join us for this special Monday opening and an engaging and lively last viewing of the 2012 National Biennial.