Roots 77 art exhibition showcases Marley-inspired art
Bodies saunter through a room bearing The Roots 77 art exhibition on Tuesday evening at The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston.
Some eyes are hypnotised by the artworks, while other eyes make four with the respective artists who were selected from an open call to submit pieces inspired by at least one of the seven roots of Marley’s legacy: identity, food, fitness, creativity, Rastafari, Jah works and music.
One of the artists, Howard Moo Young, is picking the brain of Errol Keane whose Ethereal Locks: Coral Garden piece is a notable conversation starter. Integrated with braille (a signature he uses to make his art inclusive and inviting to touch), the artwork features a black woman whose metaphoric dreadlocks symbolise the Rastafari identity one assumes under the reggae experience, but also the “ghost locs” of the 1963 Corale Gardens incident which saw State-inflicted violence and victimisation of Rastafarians.
“I wanted to reference that incident and kinda put it under water and put her in a little coral garden,” Keane told The Sunday Gleaner. Further inspired by Marley and The Wailers’ Burnin’ and Lootin’, the piece captures the cyclical state oppression that still exists, with added elements like an ouroboros bracelet.
On the other side of the private viewing, photographer Sherard Little engaged guests about his ‘Remember Bad Friday’ piece which also imbues reflection on the Coral Gardens massacre. His Rastafarian gardener serves as the subject in the striking photo, and the liberation colours (by extension, Rastafari), continue to strive despite what lingers in black and white.
“To present day, we can still see that Rastafarians are discriminated against and disadvantaged by members of the State and otherwise,” Little said. “So, although this event happened decades ago, we still have to remember what happened because it is relevant.”
Rastafarian artist, Delroy Millwood, left more than food for thought with his artwork, How Long Shall They Kill Our Profits, a play on a lyric from Marley and The Wailers’ Redemption Song. A board of powerful figures including Marley, Peter Tosh, Malcolm X and Princess Diana who advocated for the rights of people is presented with an entity that has been at the centre of many conspiracy theories, or as Millwood told The Sunday Gleaner, those who try to rid people “who share light like Bob Marley”.
The Trench Town singer died in 1981 after battling cancer.
The showcase, part of the yearlong 77th birthday celebration for the reggae superstar, features nine other pieces all selected (from 33) following an open call to artists living and working in Jamaica. Other works include attorney-at-law and artist Crislyn Beecher-Bravo’s Soul Rebel portrait of Marley; ceramicist Ramon Christie’s Reggae Music Liveth, which exudes the power of music represented by a microphone; Moo Young’s Out of Africa reflection on Marley, Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey; and Denver duo Lindz & Lamb’s depiction of Marley’s musical influence through a stack of recordings from various artistes.