Amitabh Sharma, Contributor
Opposites attract, it is often said, a statement that might be a perfect fit to the marriage of the limitless creativity with the precision of technology. It might sound like a complex formulation, but, as chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter sums it, this is where "the art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art".
The Centre for Arts (CFA) at the University of Technology (UTech), St Andrew, sits in the heart of the campus, a convergence of fine arts and culture with the sciences. "This (centre) is a kaleidoscope of music, dance, drama, drumming, steel pan, instrumental band, and visual arts," says Janice Lindsay, director at the Centre for the Arts.
"The facility," Lindsay continues, "Has developed into a fusion between technology and art."
This effervescent confluence is dotted in the sculptures in the Caribbean Sculpture Park, a part for the CFA; it is the first open-air museum of its kind in the
English-speaking Caribbean, created in 1999.
The art haven, surrounded with two declared national monuments - Lillian's Restaurant and the Silos - is reminiscent of a bygone era - vibrant, yet slow-paced and replete manmade structures in harmony with the elements.
Established in 1998 by Founding Director Pat Ramsay, CFA sought to develop soft skills and an avenue for the students to delve into visual and performing arts.
As a part of its training mandate, CFA currently offers elective programmes in dance, drama and theatre arts and music. "We also have extra-curricular programmes which are open to the University community, where people can come and hone their skills on varied creative traits." These programmes include choir, steel pan, visual arts, drumming, artistry, sign language, among others.
CFA, as part of their outreach efforts, offers an integrated arts programme - Tomorrow's Children. Lindsay said the programme targets underprivileged children, using arts as a curative measure to address the emotional abuse they might have undergone.
Expansion plans for academics, Lindsay said, are underway, to focus on visual and performing arts.
The physical space around CFA is a vibrant meeting ground for students to spend time in between lectures, and it also transforms itself into an open-air ensemble - hosting cultural events, concerts and theatre productions.
SHAPING THE LEGACY
"The university is seeking to ensure that the legacy that has been shaped is appropriately developed," Lindsay said. "We want to include cultural heritage research into the curriculum."
UTech, she informed, has established a Museum and Heritage Preservation Unit for overseeing the acquisition and preservation of historical objects of the university for permanent storage and display.
The Caribbean Sculpture Park provides the eclectic mix of media, representing the technological traits through creative expressions of Caribbean artists.
CFA itself, Lindsay informed, is seeking to stand out as the focal point to nurture and harness creative pursuits.
She says that plans are to strengthen CFA's position to transform and position itself as an art incubator. "The centre seeks to showcase Jamaican creativity at its best," she said. "It goes beyond art, an agent of change for the students and the wider community."
As the world has changed from analogue, to digital, to the cloud and is shrinking to a global village, this oasis of heritage, though evolving with time, continues to emanate creative expression to inspire generations to come.