FAMILY MOMENT: Mother-daughter pair Sandra and Kenya Fraser next to Kenya's piece "Ghostly Suicide". Below: Levene introduces his "Simply Memories."
Marking the culmination of two years of hard work, the 2013 Art'It showcase, put on by the National Gallery of Jamaica's Saturday Art Programme for children, was unveiled this past Saturday, drawing a huge turnout to the UDC's Information Centre, Downtown Kingston.
Best In Show: Steeped in a vibrant palette, youthful imagination, and no shortage of budding creativity and individuality, the exhibition showcases truly promising talent. "When you view the works," says co-ordinator Monique Barnett Davidson, "what you will see are what we at the gallery call Art'It moments."
Proud Parents: For Rohan Hardial, the Saturday Art Programme was the kind of creative outlet his six-year-old daughter Justine had been waiting for. "We always knew she was artistic, but we didn't know what to do about it. So when we heard about the programme, we jumped at the opportunity to have her registered," explains Hardial, whose young son Brandon was later registered. "So I want to encourage this programme and all the support it can get because I know it has transformed my kids." The same holds true for mom Sandra Fraser. "It's very structured, very organized," she says, "and I used to come and volunteer. I have seen the growth."
Passing on the Knowledge: Dale Bedasse, one of the programme's two instructors, is pleased with the results. "It's quite exciting, because we have kids who are actually interested in the art," the 26-year-old says. "I see real talent, and those who are not so skilled try to improve themselves over time, and we facilitate that." What's more, he further explains, the kids have taken to the curriculum with relish. "We try to teach them principles and elements of design and take it from there to conceptual development," says the Edna Manley grad. "So the pieces you see here now are based on Jamaican folklore and ideas that the kids came up with over time."
Future Generation: "I've always been interested in art," offers 14-year-old Jermaine Levene, who has been a part of the Saturday Art family since February 2011 and attends Meadowbrook High. "I also want to do art when I'm older, but I want to be a medical doctor as well. So what I'll do is get the recognition at a young age, and when I am older, I'll continue with it as a part-time thing. I also want to form some kind of charity that will benefit young people." Merle Grove High standout Kenya Fraser, also 14, is also considering a future in art. "I'm really thinking about it," she says.
High marks for the programme: "It has opened many doors of opportunities for me that I didn't know I could achieve," Levene says. "Last year I entered a still life piece in [the JCDC Visual Art competition], and it got me a trophy, a certificate and a cash prize." Levene's award-winning piece was also featured in the Prime Minister's Youth Awards exhibition.
The Bigger Picture: In her keynote address, guest speaker Paula-Ann Porter-Jones highlighted the numerous ways in which art enhances child development, ranging from inventiveness and creativity to improved academic performance to heightened problem-solving ability, decision-making skills and critical thinking. "Through social cohesion," Porter-Jones emphasizes, "children learn that we can coexist in a space with differences." Notes Veerle Poupeye, executive director of the National Gallery, "This is a really important programme for us, and how we perceive the future of the gallery and how it sees itself in the wider culture."