SIGN ME UP: Autographing copies of her new book at the National Gallery. Below, a teary Hucke with Dr. Jonathan Greenland.
Art historian, curator and educator Dr. Claudia Hucke is returning to her homeland. And in very much the same way that she first came to Jamaica almost a decade ago: very quietly. "I'm actually crying. These are real tears," she says, trying in vain to dry her eyes. Mere minutes after appearing on a panel to discuss the state of art critique in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, hosted by the National Gallery on Sunday afternoon, Hucke is heading to the airport to embark on the flight home to Germany.
As colleagues will tell you, Hucke's nine-year sojourn in Jamaica yielded numerous notable achievements, including a successful tenure as a senior lecturer at the Edna Manley College and the recent publication of her book, Picturing the Postcolonial Nation: Inter (Nationalism) in the Art of Jamaica, 1962-1975 (Ian Randle Publishers), a fascinating volume poised to rekindle the discussion on the evolution and continued impact of indigenous Jamaican art. "It was a great challenge and a source of great torment for nine years of my life," she confesses with a laugh, about working on the book.
Truth is, with Picturing, Hucke expertly and eloquently sets the record straight and gives Jamaican art its due in contributing to the decolonization process and the development of Jamaican identity. The book also pays homage to the likes of Edna Manley, Karl Parboosingh and Barrington Watson, in addition to the authentic expression of the Intuitives such as John Dunkley and Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds in contributing to the societal changes of postcolonialism.
"There is a lot more to say about Jamaican art," Hucke explains. "It has great potential and great history, and I do hope other people will pick up on it and do more research. I know there's a lot more to say."
Hucke says she's departing for home with nothing but fond and vivid memories of the well-spent time here in the Caribbean. She'll miss particularly the rapport she's developed with her students and fellow faculty members at the Edna Manley College's art school. "I love the family. I love the students and the staff," she says. "I love the people of Jamaica. They are very generous and very kind people, despite all of the problems that the country has."
Perhaps most important of all, she is quick to add that we haven't seen the last of her. "I'm not leaving here for good. I will be back regularly, starting in August," Hucke tells me. "I will always be connected to Jamaica. It has given me a lot professionally and personally. But now I want to see what life in Germany would be like for a while."