The Vermont Cynic

Soon Come: The Art of Contemporary Jamaica


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“Soon Come”, an exhibit which features works from twenty different Jamaican artists, is representative of modern Jamaican life. The exhibit features pieces from a wide variety of mediums, such as painting, sculpture, photography, batik, woodcarving, and drawing.

The artists and works featured in the exhibit give a glimpse into the diverse and rich culture and history of the island nation. Many of the works are obviously influenced by the traditions and periods in Jamaican history. The impact of the Taino natives, African slave trade, British colonial rule, immigration of Chinese laborers, and Rastafarianism can all be seen in a number of works.

The exhibit has received rave reviews and many people are excited to see non-traditional western art at the Fleming. “It’s great that the Fleming is diversifying its exhibits; it’s interesting to see artwork from another part of the world,” said senior Jackie Hansen.

“Soon Come” highlights the departure in Jamaican art from works influenced by the political turmoil that has plagued the nation for decades. This departure from the politically charged art of the 1970s has led Jamaican artists to produce more individually focused pieces. This new generation of Jamaican artists is more focused on cultivating personal artistic styles. Issues of ethnic identity and internal struggle are visible in many of the works and Jamaica’s diversity is apparent from the subject matter of the pieces.

Although most of the artists featured in the exhibit live and work in Jamaica, many studied art in Europe and the United States. These artists utilize traditional western techniques and forms, such as expressionism and minimalism while exploring the artistic styles of traditional Jamaican art. This fusion of techniques produces works that articulate the flexibility of Jamaican art. Indeed, many of the works are gritty and dark and explore serious issues such as the British colonial rule and racial discrimination. One particularly moving piece is David Boxer’s expressionist interpretation of the Middle Passage of the African slave trade.

“Soon Come” will be on display at the Fleming Museum until December 15. The Fleming Museum will host a lecture by “Soon Come” artist Bryan McFarlane on November 12 at 7p.m. McFarlane, an art professor at the University of Massachusetts, will be speaking about his own artistic influences

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Soon Come: The Art of Contemporary Jamaica