Caribana exhibit showcases diverse art

By RON FANFAIR

The annual Scotiabank Caribana visual art exhibition provides a unique opportunity for Canadian artists like Cheryl Rock to showcase their talent and meet their peers.

The Beyond the Rhythm exhibit was unveiled at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) last week.

“This is an excellent platform to show off our work because of the influx (and) diversity of people who come into this city at this time of the year,” said Rock, whose work is inspired by the knowledge of her ancestors and her desire to create dialogue with an audience.

The University of Windsor Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Education graduate, whose mixed media pieces document the essence of the experiences of people whose roots are steeped in Caribbean and African heritage, said a trip to Japan a decade ago inspired her to become an active participant on the Toronto arts scene.

“I have always been a creative person, writing plays and things like that,” she said. “The trip to Japan was my first experience with curating gallery showings and community events and that has helped me to get to where I am today…The ROM is an excellent location for people to come in large numbers to see our work and I am very appreciative of that.”

Nearly 50,000 visitors are expected to attend the exhibit created to the poem, Beyond the Rhythm, written by exhibit curator, Joan Butterfield.

“This is a powerful combination of poetry and painting art that demonstrates the unique sensibility and the dynamic culture that we have here,” said ROM director and chief executive officer, William Thorsell. “While celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Canadians of Caribbean and African descent, this vibrant assemblage of artwork also speaks to their struggles, survival and accomplishments and will no doubt have deep resonance for our many visitors.”

The show comprises 50 large 3′ x 4′ canvases created by 25 local artists.

“It’s a truism that often great art is local art,” said Jane Noakes, the head of Scotiabank’s Corporate Archives and Fine Arts division. “But internationalism in art is to be cherished too. This exhibition showcases both local and international art. It rings with time and personal stories and does what all art aspires to do which is to communicate with no temporal or geographic boundaries.

“At Scotiabank, we believe in the power of art, culture and heritage to enrich all of our lives both here in Toronto and around the world. This most definitely includes the Caribbean and Central America where we have served with pride for almost 120 years. We believe in bringing art, culture and heritage to everyone, everywhere.”

In addition to Rock, the other artists whose work are showcased at the exhibit are Deniece James, Izzy Ohiro, Joy Andre, Philemon Campbell, Ken Daley, Kwame Delfish, Sonia Farquharson, Dion Fitzgerald, Donna Guerra, Wayne Hanson, Reginald Harmon, Angela Haynes, Charmaine Lurch, Janet Manning, Donnet Maria, Anna-Maria Dickinson, Kathy Moscou, Jason O’Brien, Ingrid Pascal, Nicole Pena, Asha Ruparelia, Stephen Taylor, David Vasquez and Leslie Williams.

The artists were selected by a jury of their peers and their pieces were then viewed by an independent jury of art lovers.

“Over half of the artists were born outside Canada and they bring their differences, histories, traditions and struggles to their canvases,” said Butterfield, who is the founder and art director of the Association of African-Canadian Artists and curator of the annual COLOURblind exhibition.

The Beyond the Rhythm exhibit runs until August 3.

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