Thursday, 6 March 2014

WAYS OF SEEING: Striking new works, stunning visuals aplenty at the 2014 SVA Faculty Show

HER OWN CREATION: Harrack, among 11 faculty members showing new works in the 2014 exhibit.

The educators employed to the Edna Manley College's visual art school don't go in for vanity projects, so their group exhibition, which just kicked off the institution's Founders' Week festivities, is best regarded as an avant-garde showcase aimed at provoking discourse, opening eyes and providing fresh inspiration for students and the general public alike, while enlightening everyone about their own work as practising artists.

"It is important for not just the students but for the public to see what we do here at Edna Manley as teachers. And we were practising artists before we became teachers. And if you are practising, you are better able to inform your students of the current trends. And when you do, it makes a world of difference to them," explains Paula Daley, Head of the Department for Sculpture and lecturer in Foundation. "And this is one of the things we really try to push so that there is a balance. Students are able to come in an critique us as we critique them, which enriches the whole teaching and learning experience."

The 2014 SVA Faculty Show has assembled an eclectic and wildly imaginative 16-piece collection exploring a wide range of motifs, styles, media and universal themes by 11 lecturers. There's a bit of earthenware, thanks to Michael Layne's "Untitled Slab Vase" and G. Lutalo Makonzi's "Transformation" (2014); stoneware (Norma Harrack's debut of "Excavated Vessel"); textile mixed media contributions from Miriam Hinds and Margaret Stanley; mini video installations from Oneika Russell and Katrina Coombs, and an arresting four-piece acrylic-on-plastic set by Camille Chedda, the youngest of the cast.

Daley, meantime, chose to step way outside the box with a microscope-enhanced collage steeped in commentary on the socio-economic status quo here in Jamaica. "It's just another way of expressing thoughts and ideas," she says of her radical approach. "Using things that actually exist for certain uses and taking them a step beyond their regular purpose."

Director of the School of Visual Art, Petrona Morrison, notes that the annual faculty show is a yardstick of sorts for everyone involved. "We use it as an opportunity to assess where we are as artists, not just as educators," she tells TALLAWAH. "So we are expecting the faculty to really bring their best new work, or what they are working on now, to the show. We have, for example, Mr. Makonzi presenting work that is different from anything he's ever done before. So it allows for those kinds of explorations."

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