Creative cores of melanin expression
How do you talk or think about black history with all its pain, anger, and mortification? For many, the visual and performing arts have provided a haven of freedom to tell a story, question an ideology, and communicate truth. History has shown that blackbirds despite being caged in the shackles of slavery have used their bodies, voices, and canvases to embrace their culture and history, paving the way for artists like Reeshemah Krystal Ball and Ameika Louis.
In photo: Krystal Ball at work.-Gladstone Taylor
Soul to Canvas with Krystal Ball
From the age of four, Krystal Ball found solace in creating art that expressed not only her thoughts and emotions, but those of her ancestors. From the drawing of a face by her father, Ball fell in love with the visual art and would walk around with a pencil and paper in hand. In fascination of the simple things around her, Ball uses the stroke of a brush or pencil to depict emotions while striving for deeper symbolism.
After years of practise and help from her high-school art teacher, Ball became a force to be reckoned with. She placed fourth in Jamaica's Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Visual Art and received six scholarships from art colleges across the United States (US) and Canada. With this, Ball attended the Moore College of Art & Design where she became a dean's list student and grew an interest in painting.
Reconnecting with her love
Unfortunately, after a year and a half of studies, Ball had to return to Jamaica because of financial difficulties. This became one of her darkest times as she felt discouraged and decided to explore other opportunities. She got a nine-to-five job but little did she know, art was her 'forever after'.
After two years in the job, Ball started to teach at sip-and-paint parties and with a little nudge in the right direction, Ball reconnected with her lost love.
"When I got back to Jamaica and I hit depression, art became more than brush to canvas but became my therapy, both to look at and to create and though I wasn't doing painting professionally, art was always my refuge as it genuinely brings me an indescribable happiness," she expressed.
With full support from her family, Ball is never alone in her tough times. Her mother who plays a major support in her dreams shared that she is sometimes astonished by Ball's work. She believed Ball was born and destined to be incredible.
In photo: This pointillism piece was done off of a photograph that represented strength and perseverance and Ball wanted to capture that in the form of a drawing. "I love the intensity of the picture and the blackness of it."
Embracing culture through art
During her time in the US, Ball learnt to appreciate more of her culture. Her art history classes opened her eyes and grew her love for black history.
"It was amazing to see how smart, advanced, and innovative the black people in Africa were. They were excellent artists who displayed creativity with their clothes, sculptures, ornaments, and the list goes on. It made me proud and taught me to embrace more of my race and history in my art," she told Flair.
Ball's most loved pieces are the ones that she has created from her raw emotions or situations that impacted her life. She also enjoys pieces she creates or recreates from stories and art in her cultural history.
Being a nature lover, Ball is curious to see the hidden gems of Jamaica and the rest of the world. She hopes to experience food and art from different cultures.
Here are a few of her culturally inspired pieces.
Tel: (876) 574-4739
Soulful Beats of Ameika Louis
In photo: As the rhythms of the drums moves through her body, she expresses every emotion in her movement.-Jermaine Barnaby
Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, 23-year-old Ameika Louis was drawn to the art of dance by her family's passion for the movement. She started dancing at the age of three and with the support of her mother, Louis was later enrolled in ballet classes. However, her love for the soulful beats of the drums soon gravitated her mind and body to western African dance.
With dreams of having art therapy clinics across the world, Louis travelled to Jamaica to pursue studies in sociology at the University of the West Indies in hopes of later pursuing her masters in movement therapy. She wishes to combine these areas into art programmes that will help young individuals as well as trauma and mental victims in dealing with their issues.
"Artistic expression has been my therapy throughout life and I believe it can act as a gateway, an alternate route to success and a release from a not so great reality. Through raw expression of art, I believe we heal," she explained.
Louis's ability to move on the beats of the drums came from feeling, but also from watching her cousins' movements and a brief African dance session with master drummers, Amadou Kienou and Burkina Faso.
In photo: "My body always gravitates to where the drums are."
Self-discovery in Black History
"My love for African dance comes from the unexplainable connection to self. My self-journey to become a better version of myself and learning more about the West African rhythms and tribes that had their path in who I am now have created a passion for dance in me," she expressed.
Louis believes that black history and culture is the foundation of her identity. She referred to Marcus Garvey's quote: "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots."
"Discovering and appreciating the greatness that came before me, motivates me to do just as great or even better," Louis said with a smile.
Alongside Louis's talent in dance are her skills in drumming, steel pan, and creating jewellery.
In a dance session with Flair, the young dancer shared her talent in African and Afro beat movements, showing dance moves such as azonto, shoki and skelewu.
For classes with Ameika Louis:
Encore Dance Studio
26 Oxford Terrace,
Tel: (876) email@example.com