Artist LeRoy Clarke dies

On a personal note, my colleague Margarite Fernández Olmos and I had the great pleasure of working with Leroy on an edited volume–Healing Cultures–to which he contributed a number of drawings. We celebrate his warmth, enthusiasm and generosity.

A report by Paula Lindo for Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday.

Artist LeRoy Clarke has died, reportedly at 6 am on Tuesday.

Clarke was born in Belmont in November 1938 and most recently lived in Cascade. He was 83 at the time of his death.

Clarke was best known for his visual art, which spanned from TT to the New York City art scene, and was acknowledged as one of TT’s greatest creative talents. His work was first shown in 1972 in New York’ Studio Museum in Harlem. That series of paintings was called Fragments Of A Spiritual. Other exhibitions and collections included Douens (1973-1976), Honouring LeRoy Clarke on His 80th Birthday and in Memory of his Mother Ellen Clarke (2018), and The Eye Hayti… Cries…Everywhere in April 2021.

He also published poetry, include five books: Taste Of Endless Fruit (1972); Douens (1976); Eyeing De Word – Love Poems For Ettylene (2004) and the Cinderella edition of De Distance Is Here, The El Tucuche Poems 1984-2007, (2007) and Secret Insect Of A Bird Deep In Me, Wanting To Fly (2008) a chronicle of his drawings (pen and ink) from the 1960s to 2008.

He received many awards. in 1998, he was the first person to be given the title “Master Artist” by the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003 he was acclaimed a national icon by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. He was further garlanded by NAEAP , the National Association for the Empowerment of African People, with the Achievement of Excellence Award.

He was awarded a “Staff of Eldership” and Chieftaincy Title in the Orisha community by the Ile’ Eko Shango/Oshun Mil’osa (I.E.S.O.M.) during the sixth annual Shango/Oshun Rain Festival in 2005. Also in that year he was made an honorary fellow of the University of Trinidad and Tobago and in December of 2008 received an honorary doctorate of letters from the university.

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