Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 5: The Biennial @ Devon House


Deborah Anzinger – A Piercing Cold Where We Meet (2017, digital study)

The 2014 edition of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Jamaica Biennial was shown at multiple venues—a first for this exhibition in Jamaica—and this included Devon House, the original home of the National Gallery and one of Kingston’s main heritage sites. Devon House was included as part of the National Gallery’s fortieth anniversary celebrations, as a home-coming of sorts, but also in response to the Devon House Management’s invitation to organize regular joint exhibitions.


Laura Facey – Bumpy Top Desk and Mirror (2016)

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 at Devon House featured work by Laura Facey, Ebony G. Patterson (who won the Biennial’s Aaron Matalon Award that year), Greg Bailey, Cosmo Whyte, James Cooper, and Oneika Russell, and was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed parts of the exhibition. The approach taken was for the works selected to be installed the Devon House mansion interior, alongside or in replacement the regular furniture and art works, and, in the case of Laura Facey, also in the formal gardens in front of the house. The result was a rich dialogue between the history and context of the house—which was built and owned by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, in 1881—and the issues raised in the art works, such as the historical and contemporary dynamics of race and class, the politics of visibility and invisibility in the face of social violence, and our relationship to the natural environment.


Sharon Norwood – Root of the Matter XI (2016)

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Digital: Sharon Norwood

Norwood, Sharon - Let-it-Rain_1

Sharon Norwood – Let it rain, n.d. – still from GIF animation

Digital opened yesterday to a capacity crowd. Sharon Norwood is one of the artists in this exhibition:


Sharon Norwood is an artist of Jamaican ancestry whose work spans several media including painting and ceramic. Norwood attended the University Of South Florida where she obtained a BFA in Painting. She has exhibited internationally, in Canada, the United States and Jamaica. Noted achievements include her participation in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s 2012 National Biennial, an invitation to the 50th anniversary of NCECA’s 2016 juried Student competition, and emerging artist recognition at the 2016 Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. Sharon is currently a first year MFA candidate at Florida State University. She lives and works in Florida.

Norwood, Sharon - Let-it-Rain_1 (2)

Sharon Norwood – Let it rain, n.d. – still from GIF animation

About the Work

“My work mainly deals with issues of race and identity. I am most interested in the double consciousness of black life. As an artist I use the studio as a safe space to work through questions that fracture my understanding of blackness and of self. My current work speaks to the identity politics of ‘black’ hair. On a day to day basis I encounter hair products, advertising and social comments aimed at changing, taming and making curly hair straight, more ‘beautiful,’ more acceptable. At times I find that my own thoughts mirror these sentiments as I battle my inner dialogue and acceptance of my hair.”

“By going back to the line and using drawing as a medium I am able to create strands of curly kinky hair. The repetitive, meditative marks allow times for self-reflection and creates an objective lens, allowing me distance and space to reflect on the natural curls. The simple lines reveal themselves and become beautiful, void of negative outside narrative. Let it Rain is a light hearted homage to the curly line, it is an attempt to remove the negative associations projected onto black hair, creating a space for celebration and acceptance.”