NGJ Summer Exhibition: Amy Laskin

Amy Laskin

Amy Laskin - Haute Couture - NG029

Amy Laskin – Haute Couture and Mother Nature Marry

My studio is in mountainous rural Jamaica, where I get most of my artistic inspiration, from the rich biodiversity. In my painting practice, I assemble and merge unrelated forms and elements to create visual relationships. All are things I find fascinating, both natural and manmade. I continuously observe and hunt for what captivates me. I save images and make models. My paintings employ the use of decorative language. I’m obsessed with flowers, plants, moss, lichen, vintage clothes, vines, lace, sea life etc. They are amalgamated to form non representational figures, usually without faces or emotions. They combine natural elements and unusual combinations. Many times they are poised and placed in an environment observed from the naturalness of my studio home. I slowly build up thin layers of paint and glazes on smooth surfaces. The entities are a natural framework for image making and a celebration of womankind in mutual symbiosis with nature. Ostensibly these combinations are painted in a cogent way to suggest something phantasmagorical. I think that humankind is an essential and fundamental part of the natural world and our place in it is integral and basic. I think it is important we feel this connection to our planet, especially in these perilous times of climate change when all life becomes increasingly threatened.

Instagram: @amylaskin_
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Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Amy Laskin

Amy Laskin – Coral Incognito (n.d.)

Amy Laskin’s work in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Amy Laskin was born in 1955, in Philadelphia, USA. Laskin attended the Pennsylvania State University where she was awarded a BFA degree in Ceramic Sculpture in 1977. She also holds an MFA in Painting (1979) from the School of Fine Art Institute in Chicago. Amy Laskin has been living in Jamaica since 1986 and had her first solo exhibition at the Bolivar Gallery in Kingston in 1989. She is best known for her highly detailed and surrealist paintings, which feature tropical and marine plants, corals and lace garments. She has exhibited widely in both the USA and Jamaica and in 2015 participated in Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists at the National Gallery of Jamaica. She lives in St Andrew, Jamaica.


Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Amy Laskin

Amy Laskin - The Vine's Bride (2005)

Amy Laskin – The Vine’s Bride (2005)

Another text panel from the Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which opens on May 31 and runs until August 8:


Born in 1955 in Philadelphia, USA, Amy Laskin attained her BFA degree in Ceramic Sculpture at Pennsylvania State University in 1977. In 1979, she went on to attain her MFA degree in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Laskin lives and works in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Amy Laskin - Queen of Her Domain with Cereus (2015)

Amy Laskin – Queen of Her Domain with Cereus (2015)

About the Work

The seemingly whimsical compositions of exquisite floral arrangements with distinctly “feminine” touches belie the conceptual depth of the work of Amy Laskin. The paintings themselves could be appreciated for their beauty alone but when one looks deeper one sees in works such as Flora and Coral Collaborate not only a preoccupation with the natural environment but also an implicit warning about the fragility of the beauty that we admire. A traditional painter, inspired also by her surroundings in the mountains of St Andrew, her paintings often have distinctly feminine elements ranging from a simple ribbon in some cases to surreal implied or actual dresses that double as the vessels for the natural arrangements. She has thus subtly inserted herself within the environments that she depicts because the concerns she seeks to share are her own.

O’Neil Lawrence, Exhibition Curator

About Women’s Art

There are experiences, bonds and threads that we all have in common, which gives us insight into the oneness of all things and enables us to empathize with one another. Existing alongside, there remains a uniqueness, sui generis, that is exclusive, rare and particular to any group or individual. Women experience distinctive or aggregate qualities that set them apart from their male counterparts. This may or may not be evident in their art work. Women are marginalized, demeaned worldwide, and Jamaica is no exception. It is therefore very important to elevate, promote, and celebrate art created by women as an attempt to restore balance.”

“I am never consciously aware of making art that is ‘gender specific’ but a body of work has emerged that uses female imagery. It started with a visual curiosity, a comparison of like forms or analogies, presented in an unfamiliar way to challenge the viewers’ sense of real. These images became emblems, symbols and female entities. They are allegorical. The use of certain imagery such as lace, vines, knots, floras, landscapes, bodices, torsos, dresses, are merely the things I like and choose to combine in such a way as to create something phantasmagorical.”

Amy Laskin

Amy Laskin - Flora and Coral Collaborate (2014)

Amy Laskin – Flora and Coral Collaborate (2014)

Coming Up – Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists

The Explorations III: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which will open at the NGJ on Sunday, May 31, asks the question whether any concept of women’s art is relevant in Jamaica today – it is part of our Explorations series, which examines the big themes and issues in Jamaican art, the first of which was Natural Histories (2013) and the second: Religion and Spirituality in Jamaican art.

Seven Women Artists, which is curated by Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features the work of seven mid-career female artists who live in Jamaica or art part of its diaspora and who work in a variety of media: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Judith Salmon, Miriam Smith, Prudence Lovell, Kereina Chang-Fatt, Berette Macaulay and Amy Laskin – a small but representative sample of accomplished female Jamaican artists. We invite viewers to explore whether there are any commonalities that set these artists’ work and careers apart from those of their male counterparts and whether there is any justification to label them, individually or collectively, as “women artists,” or their work as “women’s art.” We have also asked each of the artists to produce a statement on the subject that will be reproduced in the catalogue and the exhibition text panels.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - None but Ourselves (2015)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – None but Ourselves (2015)

The sculptural and sometimes wearable work of jeweller Jasmine Thomas-Girvan explores the complexities of Jamaican and Caribbean histories as well as the cultural implications of those histories.    Her spectacularly surreal assemblages often employ or are inspired by naturally occurring plant matter and oftentimes actively utilise found objects that have a personal resonance with the artist. Her work None but Ourselves references the intellectual legacy of Marcus Garvey highlighting the importance of the transmission of liberating values to the next generation.

Judith Salmon - Pockets of Memory (2012)

Judith Salmon – Pockets of Memory (2012)

The dynamics of memory are at the heart of the installation and assemblage work of Judith Salmon. Salmon who creates work that has, in some instances, involved an element of interactivity for instance Pockets of Memory (which invited viewers to leave notes or other things that had personal significance and made the audience a part of the creative process) explores the way in which memories are preserved obscured or lost over time. She utilises fibre, wax and various printmaking techniques to create work that contains multiple conceptual and also physical layers.

Miriam Smith - Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith – Justice Denied (2014)

Miriam Smith is known for her mixed media artwork prioritised by her manipulation of fibres and textiles. Her work also reflects her experience of bookbinding, some in the form of actual books are often symbolic pages weaving a personal history that highlights life changing experiences but is also at its heart very much concerned with historical and contemporary social injustices. The multi-panelled work Justice Denied…1600 and Still Counting reflects that focus and challenges the viewer to do the same.

Prudence Lovell - Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell, an artist who’s widely ranging concerns coalesce in a number of stunning drawings and collages. To paraphrase her own words Lovell explores ‘the history and potential for allusion’ found in art as well as the various ‘truths’ found in documentary images. The ambiguities and disjunctions that occur due to the immediacy of photographic and other digital imagery and seeming reliability of these images and the often result in a rupture between perception and reality. Her most recent work, such as Untitled (Connected II), is based on Skype conversations with her children, who are studying overseas, and address the moderated reality of online connections, in terms of the ambiguities of the simultaneous experiences and realities of proximity and distance. Continue reading