Religion and Spirituality: Introduction to the Exhibition

Carl Abrahams - Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah (c1965), AD Scott Collection, NGJ

Carl Abrahams – Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah (c1965), AD Scott Collection, NGJ

Here is the second text panel for the Explorations II: Religion and Spirituality exhibition:

Religion and spirituality play a pervasive role in virtually all aspects of Jamaican history and life and are, not surprising, a prominent theme and source of inspiration in Jamaican art. While predominantly Christian, with a large number of traditional and non-traditional denominations, Jamaica is also the birthplace of Rastafari and earlier African-derived forms – Revival and Kumina being two of the most well-known.  Other world religions are also represented in Jamaica, namely Judaism, Hinduism and the Islam, as small but at times influential minorities, and there are also traditional and new spiritual beliefs and practices that do not fit any of these labels.

Clinton Brown - Drum (1970), Collection: NGJ

Clinton Brown – Drum (1970), Collection: NGJ

Religion has at times served as an instrument of social control and oppression, especially during the colonial period, but the diverse religious and spiritual practices found in Jamaica have also served as potent tools for liberation and self-assertion. These counterhegemonic roles have greatly contributed to the richness, diversity and ideological assertiveness of the associated cultural production, as is most evident in Jamaican music but also in dance and in the visual culture. Visual expressions have been an integral part of many religious and spiritual practices on the island and this has in itself produced some of the most outstanding examples of Jamaican art. The work of artists such as Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds and Everald Brown was, for instance, directly linked to their role as religious leaders, in Zion Revival and religious Rastafari, respectively, and included the production of sacred objects and images.

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