New Roots: Introduction

Matthew McCarty - I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)

Matthew McCarty – I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)

Instead of asking what are people’s roots, we ought to think about what are their routes, the different points by which they have come to be now they are, in a sense, the sum of those differences. That, I think, is a different way of speaking than talking about multiple personalities or multiple identities as if they don’t have any relation to one another or that they are purely intentional. These routes hold us in places, but what they don’t do is hold us in the same place. We need to try to make sense of the connections with where we think we were then as compared to where we are now. That is what biography or the unfolding sense of the self or the stories we tell ourselves or the autobiographies we write are meant to do, to convince ourselves that these are not a series of leaps in the dark that we took, but they did have some logic, though it’s not the logic of time or cause or sequence. But there is a logic of connected meaning.

Stuart Hall

The New Roots exhibition features 10 emerging artists: Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith and The Girl and the Magpie. These artists were selected by our curatorial team, which was headed by Nicole Smythe-Johnson, O’Neil Lawrence and myself, from our initial shortlist of over 30 artists under 40 years old who were either born in Jamaica or of Jamaican parentage or who are active here. We specifically looked for artists who had started exhibiting only recently, at least in Jamaica, and who had not previously been represented in National Gallery of Jamaica exhibitions of a similar nature, such as our Young Talent series. Final selections were made based on obvious practical considerations, such as the availability of work and feasibility of project proposals, but most of all we looked for work that suggested viable new directions in local contemporary art practice. And we found a lot that interested us: a strong focus on photographic reportage; provocative autobiographic reflections and social interventions; new interrogations of gender and the body; an at times unsparing realism but also a capacity for imaginative visual poetry; experimentation with video projection, animation and interactivity; and a growing disregard for conventional notions about the “art object” and the traditional, segregated artistic disciplines.

The Girl and the Magpie - Sponge (necklace, collection Fragile Jamaica) (2013) - work in progress

The Girl and the Magpie – Sponge (necklace, collection Fragile Jamaica) (2013) – work in progress

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New Roots – Gisele Gardner

Gisele Gardner - Subterranean Initiation (2012)

Gisele Gardner – Subterranean Initiation (2012), oil on canvas

Biography

Gisele Gardner, 23, has been painting for seven years. A past student of the Edna Manley College, she has also obtained a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and Studio Diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She specializes in oil paints and figurative imagery, and has been featured in numerous exhibitions, local and international.

Gisele Gardner

Gisele Gardner – Kevin 2 (2011), oil on canvas

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New Roots: The Girl and the Magpie

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Biography

The artist behind The Girl and the Magpie was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa). She obtained a Masters Degree in Archeology and History of Art in Belgium (1996). She began to make jewellery in Burkina Faso (2005) where she mastered the lost-wax casting technique, an ancestral method for casting bronze. While traveling regularly between Europe and Africa, she continued her goldsmith and contemporary jewellery training at the Technical School for Arts and Crafts in Brussels, Belgium (2005-2011).  She has been living and working in Jamaica for the last two years. She has exhibited in Belgium, Burkina Faso and in Jamaica, where she has collaborated with Jackie Cohen to produce accessories for her Mutamba clothing line for 2012 Caribbean Fashion Week. Fragile Jamaica is a (fragile) collection inviting reflections on the fragility of Jamaica’s ecological balance. Love for Jamaica’s beauty is not enough, on all levels more actions are needed to encourage its preservation: from daily personal actions, over community projects, to political decisions. Continue reading

New Roots: Ikem Smith

Biography

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. Continue reading

New Roots: Olivia McGilchrist

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Biography

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1981 to a French mother and a Jamaican father and educated in France and the U.K. I moved back to Jamaica in 2011 after completing a Photography M.A. at the London College of Communication in 2010. Since this sudden return, I have indulged my alter-ego Whitey in her appropriation of this space of utter difference – Jamaica – by exploring trans-location and physical expressions of emotional states in the search for my cultural identity. Continue reading

New Roots: Camille Chedda

Camille Chedda

Camille Chedda – Untitled (Built-in Obsolescence series, 2011-12), mixed media on plastic bag

Biography

Camille Chedda was born in Manchester, Jamaica in 1985. She graduated from the Edna Manley College with an honours diploma in painting, and received her MFA in painting from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her works have been featured in major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, where she was featured in the National Biennial (2006, 2008, 20 12) and Materializing Slavery in 2007. She has also exhibited internationally in Boston, New York, Germany and China. Chedda was a part-time lecturer in drawing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Albert Huie Award, the Reed Foundation Scholarship and a Graduate Thesis of Distinction from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

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