National Biennial 2012 – Musgrave Tributes: Omari S. Ra (Silver, 2011)

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Omari S. Ra – Self-Portrait (2012)

Omari S. Ra was awarded the Institute of Jamaica’s Silver Musgrave medal in 2011 and, as has become customary, is honoured with a small tribute exhibition in the 2012 National Biennial. The following is the citation that was read as the Musgrave Award Ceremony at the Institute in 2011:

The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Omari Sediki Ra for outstanding merit in the field of Art.

Omari Sediki Ra (also known as “Afrikan”) was born in Kingston, 1960. He studied painting at the Jamaica School of Art (now the Edna Manley School of the Visual Arts) and graduated in 1983. More recently, he completed his Master of Fine Arts studies at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. Omari Ra’s exhibition repertoire is quite extensive beginning with his 1983 graduation group exhibition at the Jamaica School of Art and the first Young Talent exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica in 1985. That same year, Ra held his first solo exhibition at the Suti Gallery in Berne, Switzerland. Ra continues to be a regular participant in major Jamaican exhibitions such as Curator’s Eye I and the National Biennial – where, for the latter, he was awarded the prestigious Aaron Matalon Award in 2004. Ra has continually maintained his international presence, exhibiting throughout Europe and the Americas. Important international exhibitions include the 1986 and 1994 Havana Biennale and the 1995 Johannesburg Biennale.

Omari S. Ra - Jesus Christ (1986), mixed media on paper

Omari S. Ra – Jesus Christ (1986), mixed media on canvas, Collection: NGJ (Guy McIntosh Donation)

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2010 National Biennial: Silver Musgrave Medalist Gaston Tabois

The Jamaican Intuitive painter Gaston Tabois in 2010 received a Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica, the NGJ’s parent organization. As has become customary for artists who have been awarded Musgrave medals, the 2010 National Biennial includes a special tribute exhibition of his work. Below is the citation for Gaston Tabois’ Silver Musgrave medal.

Gaston Tabois – Road Menders (1956), Collection: NGJ

The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Gaston Tabois for outstanding merit in the field of Art.

Born in Trout Hall, Clarendon in 1924, Tabois’ early years were spent on his parents small farm in the village of Rock River, a few miles from Chapelton, where as an only child he received the full attention of a doting mother who instilled in him a sense of order, discipline and of pride in completing every set task with a maximum of constructive effort. The late Gloria Escoffery, author of a memorable account of Tabois’ journey as an artist, adds other early lessons from his mother:

Today Tabois has his mother to thank not only for the moral
standards she set for him…, but also for the example of those nimble
fingers as they brought to life the intricate designs she embroidered
on the bridal gowns of Rock River belles (…) without realizing that
he was learning, Tabois came to understand the importance of
planning, of careful craftsmanship, of giving thought to the
materials, or ground on which one worked, the tools and medium
one selects for a particular job.

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2010 National Biennial: Silver Musgrave Medalist Gene Pearson

The Jamaican ceramicist Gene Pearson in 2010 received a Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica, the NGJ’s parent organization. As has become customary for artists who have been awarded Musgrave medals, the 2010 National Biennial includes a special tribute exhibition of his work. Below is the citation for Gene Pearson’s Silver Musgrave medal.

Installation view - Gene Pearson exhibition in 2010 National Biennial

The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Gene Pearson, O.D., for outstanding merit in the field of Art.

Ceramicist and sculptor Gene Hendricks Pearson was born in 1946 in St. Catherine, Jamaica. He attended the Jamaica School of Art; now the Edna College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where he studied under Jamaica’s Master Potter Cecil Baugh and was one of the School’s first graduates with a diploma in ceramics in 1965. He subsequently taught at the Jamaica School of Art, for some eighteen years, and has also taught ceramics at the Calabar and Vere Technical High schools. At present, he works exclusively as a studio artist and divides his time between Jamaica and California. A keen cultural entrepreneur, he recently opened a gallery in New Kingston – the Gene Pearson Gallery – where he sells his ceramic and sculptural work.

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