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'Opening Doors' for young artists
published: Sunday | January 27, 2008

This beautiful oil on canvas by Fitzroy Symister was also on display.

Denise Reid, Freelance Writer

What began as a conversation between artists at an exhibition is now a fledgling organisation geared towards opening the doors of the imagination and letting everyone see the wealth of talent in Jamaican youth.

Open Doors was recently formed after art teacher at the Islington High School in St. Mary, Mr. Fitzroy Symister, mentioned his dream of making much-needed improvements to the art room. Inspired by this wish, and using a great deal of foresight, photographer Suki MacDonald Kapahi envisioned artists not only making physical contributions to art rooms, but also travelling across Jamaica and aiding promising young students of fine arts in their development.

Foundation's aim

The aim of the Open Doors Foundation is to help young Jamaican artists share their talents. Not only does the programme want to provide materials that will aid students to create great art, but it also wants to provide the guidance and advice needed to encourage children to use their energy to forge careers in art.

Said MacDonald Kapahi, who has become the main organiser of the programme, "Another thing that we aim to do is to educate people in the communities where we go to showcase students. To me, it seems a lot of students in small and rural communities are overlooked when it comes to artwork, as many people don't realise that art can become a career, so we want to help to educate people so they can nurture the talents of the students."

The foundation intends to challenge students to art contests. "In order to improve their skills in specific areas and bring it to a level that can be shown," regular art contests will be held and, "we'll showcase their work in exhibitions through the year," said MacDonald Kapahi.

"I think the response will be very good (once Open Doors becomes more publicised) because many Jamaicans have a good appreciation for art and see the value in it. So far, the organisation has had responses from lots of people who want to find out more," MacDonald Kapahi said confidently.

Looking for partners

McDonald Kapahi also explained that the foundation is looking to get involved with the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and see what kind of programmes they can partner with them on. They also want to gain global partners.

Artists on the committee, as well as guest artists and students from the Islington High School and Barrett Town All-Age School, displayed their work at an exhibition which was held at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Rose Hall, Montego Bay.

When asked what she envisions for the near future, MacDonald Kapahi stated, "I see a lot of students helped and I see much bigger exhibitions that really focus on students' work, and I bet people will be really surprised at the talent they see here."

She added, "I hope that this project encourages many students who have not considered art as a career to do so, thus benefiting their schools and communities."

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