Art Exhibition: Cheery Stewart-Josephs Depicts Jamaican Life at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington

jamaican-artistJamaican artist Cheery Stewart-Josephs is showing her work in a 64-piece exhibition at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, DC. The show was curated by Margaret Bernal. JIS reports that the exhibition, part of activities to celebrate the country’s 50th anniversary of independence, “captures the sights, tints and sounds of Jamaica in vivid colors…”

It has pieces depicting slices of Jamaican life, including scenery, flora and fauna, as well as Bob Marley’s childhood house in St Ann, and some abstract paintings. Among the titles are ‘Take Me Home’, ‘Walk Through’, and ‘Togetherness’.

Ambassador Professor Stephen Vasciannie, who opened the collection last Thursday, commended the artist for “this special exhibition,” noting that the beauty of the art has transformed the Embassy building. Stewart-Josephs, in providing insight into the pieces she produced for the display, said the aim was to “bring people together with the work of art. It says it all on the canvas — love, peace, joy, togetherness, and that is what I’m sharing in the canvas.”

With some three decades of experience, the self-taught artist, now based in Brooklyn, New York, briefly attended the Edna Manley School of Art and was one of the original Trafalgar Artists. The group of practising artists had a roadside gallery from early in the 1970s on Trafalgar Road, Kingston.

The exhibition is an eloquent narrative of the life and experience of the artist, from her first exhibition “on the roadside” to now showing at top-notch venues, including Washington’s celebrated Flower Mart last year, where Jamaica won special awards and honours. She gives credit to husband Hugh Josephs, an established Jamaican abstract artist, for inspiring and pushing her to remember that she did not “become” but was “born” an artist.

Art curator, historian and poet, Margaret Bernal, said Stewart Josephs, whom she has known for many years, “has that spirit of daring, and she has the work ethic, to which people will respond.” She noted that the word love is resonating in many of the titles and the moods of the paintings.

In relating the story of the artist’s beginnings, Bernal applauded how “this wonderful daughter of Knockpatrick (Manchester)” was determined to “not take what the world dished out to her, but to change it.”

In recalling the struggles of Stewart-Josephs and the other Trafalgar Artists, she noted, “They didn’t have a gallery, they didn’t have lighting, they didn’t have a curator, they didn’t have a catalogue — but guess what they had? They had heart, they had talent, and they had a passion that believed in the Jamaican heritage and in Jamaican young people, and they wanted to make that message accessible.”

“That kind of ‘go to it’ spirit… it’s that example that we all have in us as Jamaicans…who can tell a story of peace and love, and of landscape,” Bernal stated.

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