Justice, truth be ours forever
Jamaica land we love
- Excerpt from Jamaican National Anthem
The media has been showing only stories of violence from Jamaica for some time now due to unrest in West Kingston. It was very important to me tonight to share some ‘positive vibes’ from Jamaica and to talk about some afrofuturist art happening there and in the Caribbean.
The first artist I will profile is Ebony G. Patterson. She is a young woman, born in Kingston, Jamaica. She is an Assistant Professor of Painting at University of Kentucky and in Kingston. I call Ebony an afrofuturist as her work challenges the status quo in Jamaican culture, rejects the traditional and expected, and pushes the boundaries of art. For example, her earlier work exploring women’s bodies “focused on the vagina as an object and, by implication, examined the taboos that surround this body part and its functions within Jamaican culture.” (National Gallery of Jamaica Blog)
Her more recent works focus on the male body. More specifically she looks at contradictions of men’s appearance in Jamaican dancehall culture, e.g. skin bleaching, eyebrow shaping – traditionally feminine features, while the men also portray themselves as hardcore, masculine gangstas.
The picture above this post is from her installation, “Gangstaz, Disciplez + The Doiley Boyz”. For more on Ebony, check out: http://nationalgalleryofjamaica.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/ebony-g-patterson/
Also, Ebony participated in the 2009 Jamaica Arts Cultural Exchange. For information on this event and more on Ebony’s work, go here: http://diasporavibegallery.blogspot.com/2009/03/blog-post.html
The second feature in this post is about a group of afrofuturist artists called The Grand Rue Sculptors. They are a community of artists living in a downtown slum neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I call them afrofuturists because they, like Ebony, push boundaries – do not accept the life that has been given to them and create new realities. They live daily with the reality that life as an artist in Haiti is near impossible – no government support and the inability to even get visas to see their own work displayed outside of the country. In 2009, they developed and hosted the Ghetto Biennale – and invited international artists to participate and explore “what happens when first world art objectives encounter third world artistic reality, and when Western artists try to make art in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.” (www.yoonsoo.com)
Read about Ghetto Biennale here: http://www.yoonsoo.com/ghetto/files/about.html