ON THE SCENE: The School of Visual Art's Final Year Show

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Ramone Johnson, BFA Painting
The annual School of Visual Arts Show opened on June 7th. I haven’t seen a final year show at The School of Visual Arts for at least six years due to being away from Jamaica. During that time however there have been so many reports of surprising and promising work being shown. Some of that work has even gained so much notice that graduating students have been able to transition directly into curated shows at The National Gallery, attract serious critical attention and overturn expectations from certain departments.  For example, Visual Communication students were making work which clearly was increasingly engaging with interdisciplinary practices and global art histories. Painting students were recalibrating what being a painting student means and Sculpture Department saw a growth in interest from incoming students thus building an energy once more.   
This week is the last week of Edna Manley College’s School of Visual Arts Final Year Show and if you haven’t seen it here are a few reasons why you should:
Ramone Johnson, BFA Painting
Ramone Johnson (Painting) -
This room is filled with walls of wood and glass boxes reminiscent of the stained glass of local Catholic and Anglican church architecture. On closer viewing, snippets of newspaper articles documenting Jamaica’s political and social problems.
Stephanie Channer, BFA, Visual Communication
Stephanie Channer (Visual Communication) -
This room is a quiet contemplative but cozy space dedicated to her creative brand ‘i&i’. The space is also lined with posters reflecting the philosophies of the brand.
Necon Bailey, BFA, Jewelry
Necon Bailey (Jewelry) -
This space feels like a side gallery in a small museum. There were several original remakings of classical stringed instruments. There was also a little table of items made as memory, documentation, altered tools from daily and traditional local culture eg. the machette etched with drawings on both blade and handle.
Natali Daley, BFA, Visual Communication
Natali Daley (Visual Communication) -
The work in this room while being large and commanding has a jewel-like surface with applications of various patterns to various religious iconography. The juxtaposition of the images is the trick to finding some of the more political meanings in the images.
Kareen Weir, BFA, Sculpture
Kareen Weir (Sculpture) -
Very daunting prospect to be in a room filled with contorted faces that are human size. They  don’t intimidate however but rather attract viewers. They are something very interesting to see.
Traci Wong, BFA, Sculpture
Traci Wong (Sculpture) -
Described by one visitor as a ‘beautiful room’, the metal wireframe sculptures are large yet delicate at the same time. They are like solid 3d drawings. This work is really about spatial relationships and play with materials.
Lowell Roger, BFA, Visual Communication
Lowell Roger (Visual Communication) -
A space made from plyboard but the interesting part is the charcoal drawings of mythical creatures engaged in battle. Tattoo design, fantasy film genre such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and Asian art all come to mind.
Yannick Pinnock, BFA, Visual Communication
Yannick Pinnock (Visual Communication) -
The artist, influenced by Matthew McCarthy's work of a year ago, uses graffiti, cartoon, street art as a platform. He developed fictional characters, ‘Lionz’, which go about daily life all over the city of Kingston.
I went to see the show on a Friday at mid-morning which perhaps explains the very quiet and almost deserted feeling of the building. Not many students were around to engage with and many rooms were closed or lights were off. A suggestion to the school to solve this is perhaps to assign a few students to act as docents for the whole show for visitors who may need information and assistance.
Don’t let this deter you however as what rooms I did see were on the most part impressive. The energy that I saw from many of the students mentioned is very promising. I think it indicates that more importantly than departmental divisions and trying to define a discipline anymore is earnest investigation, openness to multiple influences, cultures, practices and a commitment to honest exploration. A fresh crop of creative thinkers and practitioners is definitely something that Jamaica could use now.
The show runs from 11am-7pm during the week and 12-5pm on Saturdays. To find out more contact Edna Manley College’s Cage Gallery or email them at cage.gallery@emc.edu.jm