Saturday, 25 June 2016

CONCEPT TO REALITY: School of Visual Arts’ final year show full of creative energy and vibrant imagination

THEIR OWN CREATIONS: Anthony Cookes (above) and Nicole Lyon are among the talented student artists whose pieces are featured in the show.

You can say this for the students of the Edna Manley College’s School of Visual Arts: they know the meaning of resourcefulness. Taking in the school’s 2016 Final Year Exhibition (currently on view through the end of the month), you constantly marvel at the clever, innovative use of a variety of mediums to craft bold works of art that tell powerful, sometimes amusing, but always interesting stories.

From exotic woods to cartridge paper to fabrics and textiles to plastic and metal, everything gets used. As such, the exhibition, which spreads across the school’s many departments and disciplines (taking you to many different rooms), is a splendid showcase of young artistic talent in bloom.

When it comes to printmaking, kudos to the likes of BFA students Shantel Mason, Nicole Lyon and Alex Thinstead for their brilliant execution of concepts exploring ideas, ranging from Jamaican proverbs to gritty social realities. In the area of animation, we caught a supercool video presentation by Jenille Brown, who is obviously a standout in her Visual Communication class. The art education students (like Alwaine Reid), meanwhile, produced truly informative and eye-catching creations targeting viewers of all ages.

But the major highlight for us, though, was Anthony Cookes’ “Seven Vices,” a print-and-sketch tapestry that offers a sly meditation on the seven deadly sins, as laid out in the Bible. Using the fictitious story of the seven members of a church as his inspiration, Cookes vividly captures how the indulgence of these vices (sloth, lust, greed, wrath, envy, gluttony and pride) can come back to destroy you when least expected. In short, it’s brilliant, haunting work from Cookes.

And you could say the same for the exhibition as a whole. A must-see show, it reflects a spirit of vibrant imagination and utter creativity, with a hefty dose of intellect, reminding us that the School of Art continues to do its job (one it takes very seriously) of producing outstanding artistic talents, who will go on to take their place among the next generation of the Jamaican and Caribbean art world.

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