CONVERSATION PIECE: Pearson stands next to a work from his display at the Liguanea Art Festival.
Even at the ripe age of 63, veteran sculptor Gene Pearson doesn't lack for inspiration. "I just get up and work every day. Every time I wake, I realize the reason I am here. So I just go to my studio and work," he tells TALLAWAH at Sunday's Liguanea Art Festival. Surrounded by art enthusiasts at his booth, checking out pieces on display from his vast oeuvre, Pearson makes it clear that he's always had a thing for the natural surroundings. "When I first got into art, I decided to specialize in clay," he says. "There is so much you can get from the Earth."
Indeed, and Pearson has been so prolific over the course of the past five decades that his work can be found everywhere from the archives of the National Gallery of Jamaica to personal collections across the region and in homes globally.
Never one to overlook his colleagues, Pearson is quick to note that despite myriad challenges (chiefly economic), the local art community is flourishing with established names continuing to produce and inspire. Not to mention the new talents coming to the fore with alarming regularity. "It's a nice and growing community," he observes, "and it's one of the largest art communities in the Caribbean. We don't find this when we go to other islands, so other islands have to come here."
As for Jamaica's new generation of art stars and up-and-coming talents, Pearson say that while he's cheering them on, they need to be mindful of the fact that success and longevity (like his) are the result of incredible dedication, discipline and patience. "They are coming up so fast. I used to teach, and most of the people who are working in clay today I taught them back in the '70s and '80s," he explains. "So there are some really strong talents coming up, but they need to have the patience and the discipline. Everybody needs to learn that."