Creative activists reggae posters on show at UWI Museum

Published: Sunday | March 17, 2013 Comments 0

Graphic designer Michael 'Freestylee' Thompson creates posters that reflect his two loves: reggae music and political activism in support of a wide range of international causes.

It is his reggae music posters, evoking historical aspects of the music's development locally and globally, that are on show at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Museum during the month of March.

The posters inspired chapter design for the new book, Global Reggae, edited by Carolyn Cooper, UWI's professor of cultural and literary studies, using keynote lectures at the Global Reggae Conference that debuted in 2008.

Greek graphic designer Maria Papaefstathiou created the book's crisp look for the UWI Press. Professor Cooper recently offered the posters to the museum for exhibition, building on a mini-display of UWI-related Thompson posters that the museum had mounted in February.

The museum, a project of the UWI vice-chancellery, focuses on the institution's history but also its development, including its engagement with societies throughout the Caribbean and beyond.

Reggae music is studied at the UWI from a range of disciplinary perspectives such as cultural studies, anthropology, political science and literature.

Museum curator, Dr Suzanne Francis-Brown notes: "These 19 posters are graphically interesting and they give us a glimpse into aspects of reggae music's history. The exhibition also reflects the UWI's commitment to understanding and interpreting the region's rich and dynamic culture."

In Global Reggae, Professor Cooper reflects on the way in which Jamaican popular music has gone abroad, where it has been transformed. "But," she adds, "new hybrid sounds return to their Jamaican origins."

Commenting on his work, Michael Thompson identifies a relationship between love for the music and artistes, and his conviction that he must take a stand on social issues. "I try to incorporate the idea of truth and rights in my art, the same way as reggae artistes like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Dennis Brown incorporate it in their music," he said. Thompson has produced posters in support of freedom struggles including the Arab Spring and the current Syrian revolution, as well as issues such as the need for adequate drinking water across Africa. He and Papaefstathiou are working towards the initiation of a Reggae Hall of Fame in Kingston.

For more information contact the UWI Museum at email: uwi.museum@uwimona.edu.jm or Tel: 876-977-6065.

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