Written from the perspective that major art collections are important and revealing cultural artifacts and historical documents, this essay examines institutional, corporate, and private collection practices in post-independence Jamaica. The case studies illustrate how the history of art collecting in Jamaica mirrors the history of Jamaican art itself, as well as the changing ideas about art and culture as Jamaica moved from Independence in 1962 to the contemporary era. The case studies also help us to understand how wealth, power, class, race, and other social factors have operated and been contested in postcolonial Jamaica, generally, and in the specific context of the Jamaican art world.
How can a house reflect migration’s arcs, its losses, and its gains? It is this quest for reconciliation that draws Grace Aneiza Ali into the mother’s house paintings by Guyanese-born British artist Frank Bowling OBE RA (b. British Guiana, 1934). Bowling’s practice for the past six decades has been defined by his expert weaving of autobiography and geographical subject matter into the formalist rigor of color abstraction. In tandem, his early figurative and abstract paintings informally regarded as the Mother’s House Paintings are defined by a singular motif: a 1953 photograph of the house he grew up in and often returned to—his mother’s house—in New Amsterdam, Guyana.
In this article Erica Moiah James discusses Rubén Torres Llorca’s sculptural installation History Will Teach Us Nothing (1998) within a sequence of works he made in a span of ten years, and in relation to the work of Antonia Eiriz, Jean-Jacques Lebel, and Christopher Cozier. It focuses on Llorca’s exceptional craftmanship, his multifaceted aesthetic language, and how he arranges artwork within exhibition spaces to encourage audiences to have meaningful encounters with the ideas he wants to communicate.
Thinking about the Caribbean as more a space than a place, independent curator and doctoral candidate Nicole Smythe-Johnson argues that collecting Caribbean art should not be a matter of geographic focus, but rather of collecting from a Caribbean perspective. Smythe-Johnson sketches a collecting strategy informed by the multivalent intersectionality that is a hallmark of Caribbean culture, with reference to works by Caribbean artists in the Black Studies collection at the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1961, Cuban artist Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) was forcibly relocated to the United States due to the uncertainty caused by Fidel Castro’s rise to power in her home nation. This began Mendieta’s life of exile. Focusing on the photographic series Silueta Works in Mexico (1973-1977), artist and scholar Genevieve Hyacinthe posits Mendieta as a “New World Artist” whose interests in the figure of the Black Venus, and other Black Atlantic forms metaphorically buoyed her to re-shape her experience of exile from a narrative of intractable trauma to artistic agency.
Based on research, an interview with the artist, and biographical information, this text presents a reading of Daniel Lind Ramos’s work in relationship to the historic events of the 1797 British invasion of Puerto Rico. The article highlights the importance of history, memory, syncretic practices, and Afro-Caribbean identity in Lind Ramos’s growing body of work which draws from the material economies of his home city of Loíza.
The masterful work of Cuban artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, 2021 Pérez Prize recipient, reflects on our shared modern condition while evoking memories of the past and ancestors that came before us. Images of Black people, histories, and experiences are represented through fragmentary reflections of the artist’s own autobiographical experiences that serve to rupture persistent visual and historical erasures. In this essay, Dr. Yanique Hume reflects on the ways in which the silences of the past become visible and memories become ritualized through Campos-Pons art practice. In exploring how she routinely centers Blackness, Dr. Hume argues that the work of Campos-Pons connects to the experiences of the hybridity that define the Black experience in the Americas.
In this essay, Julián Sánchez González discusses three works by Arnaldo Roche Rabell, Belkis Ayón, and Purvis Young through the lens of shamanism as a cultural practice. By considering these artists’ spiritual interests, Sánchez González borrows from comparative religious studies and anthropology to open up new methodological avenues for art history. Examining the parallel visual strategies deployed in these works from PAMM’s collection, Sánchez González analyzes these artists’ interest in the otherworldly and supernatural as a way to supersede their immediate sociopolitical contexts and reflect on the contemporary human condition.