Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Teen wants to redesign the world through art

Published:Thursday | June 4, 2015 | 12:08 AMAnastasia Cunningham
Norman O'Mally, 16-year-old Jose Marti Technical High School artist, capturing the portrait of his friend, Chester Francis, to add to his other pencil portraits
Norman O'Mally, 16-year-old Jose Marti Technical High School artist
Norman O'Mally, 16-year-old Jose Marti Technical High School artist, with some of his pencil portraits


When 16-year-old Norman O'Mally looks at the world, what he envisions is completely different from the average person. Through the eyes of the gifted young man the world is a work of art to be captured and redesigned on the pages of his ever present sketch pad.

And he replicates those images with such innocent perfection and innovation, there is no doubt that God has gifted the teen with an amazing talent.

Affectionately called Caple by his friends, the fourth form student at Jose Marti Technical High School considers visual art second nature, noting that even in his dreams he is haunted by artistic expressions, always imagining how to improve things around him.

"I love architecture most of all. I often look at housing schemes and buildings and come up with a totally different concept on how I would redesign it. For instance, I have this great idea how I would redesign the Parliament building (Gordon House) downtown," O'Mally told The Gleaner.

"Even at school, I have this plan in my head how I would redesign the structure that would eliminate the use of zinc roofing and setup the classrooms so that each doesn't disrupt the other."

He added, "I always try to think outside the box. I don't like to see things in the normal sense, for instance, just drawing an apple as an apple. In my mind I wonder how it would be if I added a more exotic, creative element to that apple, and for others to see that apple beyond it being just what the eyes see. I want them to see it with an added imagination.

"I don't see the world like the average person, I see the world in an artistic, creative way. There is art in everything, creativity is all around us, we just need to see it, imagine it and create it. Many people don't see it that way, but art is in practically everything that we do."

From a child, O'Mally's talent was fighting to burst forth, constantly using every marking implement he could get his hands on to draw on every surface available...including the walls, to the chagrin of the adults around him.

Spending most of his childhood with his grandmother, Esmina Davidson, in Red Berry in Porus, Manchester, it was while at Porus High School that his art teacher, Garcia Forbes, saw the ability in him as a 14-year-old and encouraged it.

Honing that natural talent, Forbes taught him the basics on the use of proper techniques to bring his drawings to life.

"It was because of Ms Forbes why drawing became my anthem," said O'Mally.

The youngest for his mother, Maizie Davidson, last year he relocated to St. Andrew to live with her in the innercity community of Mandela Terrace, and was enrolled at Jose Marti.

Michael Fraser, his art teacher there, helped to further refine that talent, taking the upcoming artist to an advanced stage in the use of techniques of the craft.

"Mr. Fraser made me more advanced. He taught me more skills in drawing objects, still-life subjects, posters, self-portraits, using both pen and pencil," he said.

The teen is grateful to his mom for her encouragement and her tireless effort in providing for him.

"My mom encourages me a lot, even though she sometimes gets tired of me always drawing. Sometimes she would hide my pencils and sketch book so that I can focus on other subjects instead of just visual arts," he shared with laughter.

With the intention of pursuing a career in architecture, O'Mally plans to sit at least ten subjects in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations. He is currently doing three of those subjects, and will sit the others in fifth form.

Despite the financial challenges his family faces, the young man is praying God will work something out for him to matriculate to the University of the West Indies to further his studies in pursuit of his dreams.

"I want to one day start my own business to design housing schemes, landscapes, government buildings, plazas, things like that, using my own creative concept that will be so unique and different and efficient in the utilisation of space, while being very stylish and contemporary," the teen stated.

"I would also like to teach art, helping to bring out the artistic talent in gifted students."

He added, "I know how hard my mother has to work to send me to school and take care of me. I want to put a smile on her face and make her proud of me one day, knowing that she sacrificed all her life to take care of me and my sisters."

Named after his dad, O'Mally said his father also tries his best to play his role.

A member of the Faith United Church of God youth group in his community, O'Mally is forever grateful for the positive influence the church is having on his life.

"I find the church very encouraging and inspiring, helping me to be a better person. I think this is a wonderful youth group and I love all the friends I have made here," he stated.