The rich and lively culture of Jamaica is clearly depicted in its art. Tracing back from the times of the native Taino Indians, their art was mostly centered on their beliefs and rituals. Had you lived in these ages, you would have seen that some of their works give glory to the gods they call their own through wood carvings.
After the Jamaican flag succumbed to the European conquistadors, however, their art has evolved as it imbibed the culture of the colonizers. From their deity-inspired art pieces, traditional European art showing picturesque images of the new world were made.
In the late 18th century, Isaac Mendes Belisario was able to uphold his roots as he returned to Jamaican culture. His works such as “In Illustration of the Habits,” “Occupation,” and “Sketches of Character” had inspired the rebirth of the vibrant Jamaican. Another work he had, “Costume of the Negro Population in the Island of Jamaica,” together with his other works, are published with Adolphe Duperly’s documentation of slavery in their country. Thus, according to the National Gallery of Jamaica, this rebirth marked the nationalism-inspired art movement at the start of the twentieth century.
In 1922, Jamaica was gifted with the coming of modern art through Edna Manley, who observed that the current artistic and traditional style during that time was lacking as it could not encompass the depth and richness of Jamaica’s culture and its natives. From then on, Edna Manley spearheaded and contributed much towards the formal training of talented artists in Jamaica, thus polishing their craft.
The journey of Jamaican artists towards their inner histories and culture provided the world with art which is truly unique and worthy of recognition. Even with the changing times, may they continue to go back and search within so that all of us can share the true beauty of Jamaican art.