Caribana art exhibit at the ROM


For a few minutes last week, the spotlight was turned on a Subban other than two-time world junior championship gold medallist Pernell Karl (P.K.) Subban, who made his National Hockey League debut last February.

The Montreal Canadiens defenseman and other family members cheered lustily for sister Natasha as she was introduced with a select group of Canadian artists whose paintings are being displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) until August 13.

Curated by Joan Butterfield, the From the Soul exhibit is Canada’s largest ever single juried display of art by Canadian artists.

Subban, a graduate of the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), who specialized in digital painting, is making her debut in the Caribana art exhibit which is in its fourth year. The inaugural event took place in the Distillery District.

“I never thought that my work would be showcased at the ROM,” said the Runnymede Collegiate Institute graduate who spent last year in an OCAD satellite program in Florence, Italy. “This is a dream come true and I am quite honoured.”

She said her artistic inspiration came from her late paternal grandmother Fay Subban who was a seamstress.

“She used to draw all the time and I paid very close attention to her,” said Subban, who started painting at age six.

The second of five children, she said it’s an honour to be the brother of P.K., who is one of the rising young NHL stars. She also added that he and younger brother Malcolm also dabble in art.

“Most people know P.K. as a hockey player, but he’s a very good artist,” said Subban, who enters York University next semester to pursue visual arts studies.

Like Subban, a deceased grandparent has had a significant influence on Wayne Headley’s artistic career.

Self-taught Jamaican sculptor Alvin Marriott, who died in 1992 at age 90, created busts of former American president Franklin Roosevelt, Jamaican Prime Ministers Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley, Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and Jamaican’s first Olympic gold medallist Arthur Wint, whose sculpture stands in front of the National Stadium in Kingston.

“I grew up around my granddad, so I am now following in his footsteps,” said Headley, who is the only sculptor in the exhibition. “To be at the ROM is one of the bigger opportunities for me and a real privilege.”

In 2000, the Black Business and Professional Association commissioned Headley to create the Harry Jerome award that honours excellence in Canada’s Black community. He has also produced awards for the West Indies Cricket Board, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the first Ray Charles honour presented to internationally acclaimed soprano Kathleen Battle.

Unlike newcomers Subban and Headley, OCAD Fine Arts graduate Michelle Montague is making her second appearance in the exhibition after missing out last year.

“The focus of my work often involves manipulation of everyday, realistic landscapes and their transformation into parallel environments,” said Montague who also studied Marketing Management at Centennial College. “I am at a point in my life where I want to expand my horizon and the way I look at the world and so I am painting in more fluid colours that represent that transition of nature from one reality to the other.”

Nearly 160 works on canvas, three-dimensional bronze sculptures, award-winning ceramic pieces and Caribana parade outfits will adorn the ROM for the next two weeks.

“This collection of works will arouse the conscious, still the mind and soothe the soul,” said Butterfield. “Our goal is to attract a new and expanded audience to this exhibition with the hope of inspiring others with the message of courage, love and respect prevalent throughout the displays. Art is an expression of life around us and a powerful way to bring difficult topics of discussion out in the open.”

The works of 49 artists are showcased in the exhibition.



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