Wed | Aug 16, 2017

The Explorations III: Seven Women Artists

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 5:00 AM
Miriam Hinds-Smith, ‘Justice Denied’.
Prudence Lovell – ‘Untitled’ (Orison, Gaza – 7 July - 26 August).
Amy Laskin – ‘Flora and Coral Collaborate’.
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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the Explorations III: Seven Women Artists exhibition to the public on Sunday, May 31. The exhibition will question whether any concept of women's art is relevant in Jamaica today. Curated by O'Neil Lawrence, senior curator at the National Gallery, the exhibition features work by seven mid-career female artists who work in a variety of media: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Judith Salmon, Miriam Smith, Prudence Lovell, Kereina Chang-Fatt, Berette Macauley, and Amy Laskin.

"We invite viewers to explore whether there are any commonalities that set these artists' work and career apart from those of their male counterparts and whether there is any justification to label them as 'women artists'," said Lawrence.

The sculptural and sometimes wearable work of jeweller Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's spectacularly surreal assemblages often employ or are inspired by naturally occurring plant matter and oftentimes actively utilise found objects that have a personal resonance with the artist. Her work, 'None but ourselves', references the intellectual legacy of Marcus Garvey, highlighting the importance of the transmission of liberating values to the next generation.

The dynamics of memory are at the heart of the installation and assemblage work of Judith Salmon. Salmon creates work that has, in some instances, involved an element of interactivity for example, Pockets of Memory, which invited viewers to be a part of the creative process by way of leaving notes or other things that had personal significance. Salmon utilises fibre, wax and various printmaking techniques to create work that contains multiple conceptual and also physical layers.

Wide range of works

Miriam Smith is known for her mixed media artwork, prioritised by her manipulation of fibres and textiles. Her work also reflects her experience in bookbindings. The multi-panelled work, 'Justice Denied ... 1600 and still Counting', highlights that focus and challenges the viewer to do the same.

Prudence Lovell, an artist whose wide ranging concerns coalesces in a number of stunning drawings and collages, explores "the history and potential for allusion" found in art as well as the various "truths" found in documentary images. The ambiguities and disjunctions that occur due to the immediacy of photographic and other digital imagery and seeming reliability of these images often result in a rupture between perception and reality. Her most recent work, 'Untitled (Connected III)', is based on Skype conversations with her children, who are studying overseas, and address the moderated reality of online connections, in terms of the ambiguities of the simultaneous experiences and realities of proximity and distance.

Linked explicitly to her preoccupation with drawing and the manipulation of surfaces in her printmaking background, Keriena Chang Fatt's dreamlike installations of filmy voile fabric are a meditation on the way her own personal relationships have played an important role in shaping her life. The delicate threads and fabric that are at the heart of her work act as metaphors for the fragility of the human body and add a universality to the themes fertility, loss and longing that emerge in her work.

Identity

The search for identity and belonging plays an important role in the photography and multimedia installations of artist Berette Macaulay. She has done seemingly distinct bodies of work over the last few years exploring not only traditional photography but also Polaroid image transfers and collages set on light boxes. At the core of her work is a preoccupation with mythology continuing exploration of a complex personal history and the drive to resolve those histories. The power of memory and its relationship to the construction, reconstruction and establishment of family ties is seen in the work 'Lisa', from her Neue Rootz series.

The whimsical compositions of exquisite floral arrangements with distinctly feminine touches belie the conceptual depth of the work of Amy Laskin. The paintings could be appreciated for their beauty alone, but when one looks deeper, one sees in works such as 'Flora and Coral Collaborate' a preoccupation with the natural environment, but also an implicit warning about the fragility of the beauty that we admire.

The Explorations III: Seven Women Artists exhibition is a part of the National Gallery of Jamaica's Exploration series, which examines the big themes and issues in Jamaican art, the first of which was Natural Histories (2013) and the second Religion and Spirituality in Jamaican art (2013/14).