Something for everyone at faculty exhibition
"Traversing many disciplines, landscapes, cosmologies, philosophies and movements in a variety of textures and media including acrylic or oils on canvas, metals, embroidery, clay, wood, photographic and digital printing, the striking cornucopia of tastes, energies and talent abounds here in this CAG[e]."
This was the succinct yet enveloping description given by Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah, lecturer in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, as she declared the third staging of the School of Visual Arts Faculty exhibition open on Tuesday, March 2, at the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts. The event was well attended and attracted chairman of the Edna Manley College Board of Directors Paul Issa, executive director of the National Gallery and former Curator at CAG[e], Veerle Poupeye, members of corporate Jamaica, along with staff, students and friends of the college.
The exhibition featured 17 artists, who displayed a refreshing assemblage of 21 works diverse in both message and medium. The anticipated event is part of the college's annual celebrations of its founders. It provides an opportunity for the faculty and staff to continually refine their craft and inspire students. The opening reception was chaired by CAG[e] curator Winston Campbell, and generated much discourse about the social and personal issues addressed through the presentations. Themes explored were those of frustration, release, irony, contradiction, control, sacrifice and diversity in the everyday interpretation and experience of life.
Maxine Grey's 'Mushroom Chat' is a unique representation of the social, primarily verbal, interactions that categories everyday life as well as the inevitable crossroads we encounter while embarking on our individual journeys. Grey, a technical administrator in the ceramics department, demonstrates that poetry is a versatile medium that can be used to create a scene rather than a vessel. Moulded in glazed clay are the exchange of ideas, hopes, dreams and the coming together of peoples in places that facilitate communal dwelling. Specifically, the piece was inspired by a time when folks used to gather at the Sir William Grant Park in downtown Kingston to "chat" under the big tree.
'Feeding the Multitude' and 'Parental Control' by Paula Daley (foundation lecturer) and Marlon James (photography technician and assistant curator) both addressed pertinent issues relevant to present-day Jamaican society. Daley makes a Biblical reference to the crucifixion and Jesus feeding the multitude and likens these to the economic crisis in the country. It makes a socio-political statement about living on meagre resources and feeling crucified by national and personal financial obligations. James' criticism of parental contradictions is also of a social nature but focuses on the more personal issue of child rearing. He dares us to revaluate what we see as inappropriate exposure for minors by vividly showing how children are barred from televised scenes of a sexual nature yet widely exposed to violence and sexually objectifying content though music videos and advertising.
Trials, dilemmas ...
The social commentary continued with the sole metal piece created by Carol Campbell, lecturer in the jewellery department. From our birth to aged existence, we are plagued with trials, dilemmas, misfortunes, painful separations and uncertainties but are also amused, strengthened, helped and uplifted through it all. 'In the Between' speaks of these nuances of life in an interesting way. The technique used creates a collage of copper aluminium and mixed media consisting of soldering and jewellery elements. Director of the School of Visual Arts Petrona Morrison feels it speaks "volumes of the range of possibilities to be explored in metals, specifically printing directly unto metal surfaces".
Lecturer in the Textiles and Fibre Arts Department, Margaret Stanley, makes strong statements about body image that are critical but appropriately mitigated with a comical flair. 'Patterned Pieces' and 'Funny Bones' flirt with the concept of perfection and the ideal body. The first links dressmaking to remaking the body through cosmetic products and plastic surgery by outlining the human body as fabric to be cut and altered. Clearly seen around the image are terms such as 'nip', 'tuck', 'fold', 'dotted line' and 'stitch' that are used in both procedures. The latter presents the aching of the body brought about by ageing, especially the ordeal of dislocating joints and discs. Stanley states that even though these occurrences are not funny, we often can't help but laugh about them.
In her closing remarks, Niaah's stated "this collection of 100 per cent recent works (with 76 per cent produced in 2010) by a collection of accomplished and emerging artists, all staff members at the Edna Manley College, is an impressive statement about the role of art and the need for artistic production at the highest level of and for pedagogy."
The exhibition continues until March 26.