Young Talent 2015: Katrina Coombs

Here is another in our short posts on the artists in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition, which opens on August 30:

Katrina Coombs was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1986. She holds a BFA in Textiles and Fibre Arts from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in 2008 and has completed her MFA in Creative Practice at the University of Plymouth through the Transart Institute in 2013. Katrina lectures part time in the Textiles and Fibre Arts Department at the Edna Manley College.

Artist’s Statement

My work is governed and guided by my emotions as I attempt to understand and search for the woman that I am. Each artwork represents a part of me that is hidden from myself an others. They embody my hidden voice. The artworks I create depict my experiences of birth, death, love, heartbreak, corruption, entrapment, destruction, joy, happiness and freedom. In this attempt to understand the Self and these experiences, the Other becomes ever more present. Through the use of fibrous material and techniques I explore the effect of the Other on the ‘I’.

This body of work emphasizes the social implications of insecurities and turmoil that a woman faces as she struggles with her daily life attempting to satisfy herself, partner, family and friends which create an enterprise for conflict. In this situation the Other would be the motherly instincts and desires of a woman. The works mimic the nature of the womb, which becomes an Other to the woman as she attempts to conform to its demands, as well as the emotional turmoil that accompanies its actions. The ‘I’ becomes absent as the Other prevails and creates a void of neurotic divergence within.

Young Talent 2015 to Open on August 30

Youn Talent Invitation (update)-01

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present Young Talent 2015, an exhibition which features ten artists living in and from Jamaica and under forty years old, namely: Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Monique Gilpin, Domanie Hong, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagay Osborne, and Cosmo Whyte. The exhibition will open on Sunday, August 30, 2015 and will be on view at the National Gallery until November 14, 2015.

The first Young Talent exhibition was held in 1985, as part of JAMFEST 85, when Jamaica hosted the International Youth Conference. Young Talent 85 featured eleven young artists, including Basil Watson, Omari Ra, Khalfani Ra, and Petrine Archer-Straw. As part of the National Gallery’s strategies to uncover and support new developments of Jamaican art, Young Talent exhibitions have been organized intermittently since then, in 1989, 1995, 2002, and most recently in 2010, and many well-known contemporary Jamaican artists had their first major exhibition as part of the Young Talent series. Young Talent V in 2010 was particularly ground-breaking and launched a new generation of artists who have since revolutionized the Jamaican art landscape, such as Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Leasho Johnson and Oneika Russell. The National Gallery has also staged the New Roots exhibition in 2013, which was treated as a spin-off from the Young Talent series and featured artists such as Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Camille Chedda, and Deborah Anzinger.

To support what is presently an exceptionally energetic and innovative contemporary art scene in Jamaica, the National Gallery now intends to present Young Talent exhibitions every two years, in the years alternating with the Jamaica Biennial. For the present exhibition, Young Talent 2015, the National Gallery opened the selection process with a call for submissions and entries were received from thirty-five artists, from which ten were selected. While most of the selected artists already have an exhibition record, Howard Myrie, Avagay Osborne, and Domanie Hong have just graduated from the Edna Manley College, which continues to be the main engine for development and innovation in Jamaican art.

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Young Talent 2015 includes a healthy range of artistic media and practices, including new and more traditional media, including GIF collages, fibre-based work and representational painting, which coexist productively as part of Jamaica’s emerging contemporary art language. While some of it is also deeply personal, most of the work selected for Young Talent 2015 is explicitly or implicitly political—tackling challenging subjects such as gender violence, social dysfunction, power and marginalization, the politics of the body, and displacement and forced migration—and reflects the complex and unsettling cultural and political events and debates that shape the “post-postcolonial” world. One striking feature of the exhibition is the artists’ engagement with the materiality of their work, which is mined judiciously for its visual poetry and political implications. The result is a compelling and though-provoking exhibition, which should produce healthy debate about current artistic and cultural trends and about the broader social and political questions raised.

The August 30 opening function of Young Talent 2015 is presented as part of the National Gallery’s Last Sundays programme, with doors open from 11 am to 4 pm and the opening function at 1:30 pm. There will be no guest speaker and instead we will be screening a short video documentary on the participating artists. This will be followed by a musical performance by Jah9. As is customary, the event is free and open to the public but donations are welcomed, as these play an important role in funding projects such as Last Sundays and exhibitions such as Young Talent 2015.

Ten Artists Selected for Young Talent 2015

Diandre Davis

Di-Andre Caprice Davis – gif colllage

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Young Talent exhibition series was introduced in 1985 and has seen five editions thus far, the last of which – Young Talent V – was held in 2010. The purpose of this exhibition series is to provide exposure to the work of artists under forty years old, in and from Jamaica, and the series supports an important aspect of the NGJ’s mandate, which is to actively encourage new developments in Jamaican art and to support the work of young and emerging artists. The series also encourages public critical dialogue about new directions in Jamaican art and culture and provides a platform for innovative curatorial practice. Several well-known Jamaican artists are alumni of the series, including Omari Ra, Basil Watson, Anna Henriques, Khalfani Ra, Paul Stoppi, Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Leasho Johnson, Oneika Russell, Marvin Bartley, Michael Elliott, and Marlon James. A related exhibition – New Roots – was held in 2013 and featured artists such as Matthew McCarthy, Camille Chedda, Storm Saulter, Varun Baker, and Deborah Anzinger.

Richard Nattoo - Oblivion (2015)

Richard Nattoo – Oblivion (2015)

Another exhibition in the Young Talent series is scheduled open on August 30, 2015 and will feature ten artists under forty, namely Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Domanie Denniston, Monique Gilpin, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagaye Osborne, and Cosmo Whyte. The selection process for Young Talent 2015 was based on a call for submissions and a total of thirty-five entries were received. While the original intent was to feature only eight artists, the curatorial team decided to increase this number to ten, in response to the quality and range of entries. The selections were made by Executive Director Veerle Poupeye, Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence and Assistant Curators Monique Barnett-Davidson and Tesha Chai, who will also serve as the curatorial team for this exhibition.

Greg Bailey - No Blue Skies in the Land of Sunshine (2013)

Greg Bailey – No Blue Skies in the Land of Sunshine (2013)

Young Talent 2015 covers a healthy range of contemporary art practices, from the realist portrait paintings of Greg Bailey and Alicia Brown to the textile- and fibre-based works of Katrina Coombs and Avagaye Osborne. The focus on textile- and fibre-based media is a relatively new development in local contemporary art and is part of a broader trend of experimentation with media, which is also evident in the glass-based work of Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo and Domanie Denniston. As in Young Talent V and New Roots, there is a strong representation of photography-based media, as can be seen in the work of Domanie Denniston, Di-andre Caprice Davis, Monique Gilpin and Cosmo Whyte, although the latter now also produces three-dimensional constructions. While there is no deliberate common theme in the exhibition, the works selected are perhaps best understood as a mirror of the contemporary world, in Jamaica and globally and address issues such as the politics of gender, sexuality and race and, in several instances, use subtle formal and verbal strategies to make powerful statements that all lives matter.

In all, Young Talent 2015 promises to be a strong, engaging and at times provocative exhibition and a worthy successor to Young Talent V and New Roots.

Cosmo Whyte - You Know We Can't Swim

Cosmo Whyte – You Know We Can’t Swim

Jamaica Biennial 2014 to Close on March 15 with Artists’ Talks

Artist Talk (Web)

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 is scheduled to close on Sunday, March 15, and to mark the occasion the National Gallery of Jamaica will exceptionally be open from 11 am to 4 pm on that day. A special programme of Artists’ Talks will be presented on that day, starting at 1:30 pm. Admission to the National Gallery of Jamaica and the Artists’ Talks will be free but contributions to our donations box are much appreciated and help to fund exhibitions and programmes such as the Biennial and our Sunday programming.

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 has been a landmark exhibition in several respects and has received significant critical acclaim, in the media and from visitors. Rebranded from what used to be the National Biennial, the Jamaica Biennial 2014 was re-conceptualized to have a more international outlook and to engage local and international audiences more effectively. It is the first Biennial to be judged by international curators – Sara Hermann from the Dominican Republic and Diana Nawi from the Perez Art museum in Miami. It is also the first to include non-Jamaican artists, Blue Curry (Bahamas), James Cooper (Bermuda), Gilles Elie-dit-Cosaque (Martinique), Sheena Rose (Barbados), Richard Mark Rawlins (Trinidad), who were invited to participate in the Special Projects section of the exhibition, along with the Jamaican-born Renee Cox. In another first, the Biennial is shown at more than one location: in addition to the main exhibition at the National Gallery itself, this includes Devon House, which features work by Greg Bailey, James Cooper, Laura Facey, Ebony G. Patterson, Oneika Russell, and Cosmo Whyte, and National Gallery West in Montego Bay, which features work from the Sacred Geometry series by Renee Cox. One special project, PARADISE.jpg by Blue Curry, consists of an intervention on the facades of several buildings in Downtown Kingston. Sunday, March 15, represents the last opportunity to see the Jamaica Biennial 2014 in its entirety.

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 is one of the largest exhibitions in the National Gallery’s history and it is arguably its most diverse exhibition to date. This diversity is reflected in the artists who have been invited to participate in the Artists’ Talks, which are divided into two panels. Panel 1, which is presented under the theme “Traditional Media/New Approaches,” explores how artists use traditional media and styles such as representational painting, ceramics and fibre art to produce work that has significant cultural and aesthetic currency in the present moment. This panel features Michael Layne, Tina Spiro, Katrina Coombs, and Samere Tansley and will be chaired by National Gallery Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence. Panel 2, titled “Mapping the Social Terrain,” explores how artists engage with the social environment and the social and political issues of the 21st century in new, experimental media. This second panel features Sheena Rose, who is visiting Jamaica for the occasion, as well as Camille Chedda, Katherine Silvera-Sunley and Leasho Johnson and will be chaired by Executive Director Veerle Poupeye. Each artist will make a short presentation on their work in the Biennial and its context, followed by an open discussion at the end of each panel. Continue reading