December 14, 2017

“Walk With Me”

– A showcase of Women, Art, Guyanese culture

In continuing a tradition of honouring women through the showcasing of their art and talent, the Guyana Women Artists’ Association (GWAA) once again opened the doors to its annual Art Exhibition.
On display at the National Art Gallery housed at Castellani House, Homestretch Avenue, is a diverse line-up of imaginative pieces, which seeks to amalgamate various forms of visual art so as to create an intrinsic explosion of colours, symbolism and beauty, all wrapped up in one grand collection.

Illuminus by Sandra Bell-LaRoque (Acrylics on canvas)

This exhibition aligns with the observation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, with the GWAA this year presenting its 29th edition of highlighting the complexity of women and their roles in society through art.
Headlining the exhibition is Guyanese woman artist Akima McPherson, who brings to the collection three series of her work, each encapsulating a different form of art.
Taking centre stage is a suspended text ensemble, titled “Unmasking”, which is hung in a cascade of silent testimonies. Each part of the puzzle represents individual women and the invisibility of their issues as they move through time and space.
Adding to that, McPherson also has on display seven figures in varying postures with small abstract forms which symbolise the burdens, hardships and difficult circumstances of women in society. Despite initially appearing dismal, the abstract pieces are backed figures of victory, inclusive of prayer and dancing.
In outlining the essence of the work she has on display, the featured artist indicated, “Increasingly, my work rejects commoditisation and participation on the market. Instead, I am interested in art that critiques social structures and in its critiques proposes a way forward.”
McPherson alluded to a theory which solidifies the foundations of art, saying art has a special role to play in the evolution of the individual and humanity. It is a gift from the Universe and should serve the aims of the Universe and, therefore, humanity.
This year marks the first time the GWAA singled out one of its own members as the main feature artist.
Meanwhile, the exhibition also presented the perfect opportunity to highlight the works of other local female talents as they seek to bring to the table various perspectives on the dynamics of women in the Guyanese context.
One such display was that of the guest artist, Sandra Bell-LaRocque in her attempt to capture nature and its importance in the lives of Guyana’s people. Bell-LaRocque presented five pieces, which speak of her patriotism and its inspirational role in her work. They were “East Coast Dusk Sky”, “Sunset”, “Guyana I love”, “Sea Life” and the highlight, “Illuminus”.

Tara Bentick’s collection of jewelry, ornaments and glassware on sale at the Exhibition

The last was perhaps the most symbolic of her pieces – the abstract of a woman almost synonymous to the dawn of a new day.
Another eye-catching piece was that of Denise Bristol, titled “The strength of a woman.” The acrylic painting stands out for its portrait of the many hats worn by a woman, particularly in her role as a child bearer and caregiver.
In existence for the past 30 years, the GWAA has not only contributed to the development of female artists of Guyana but also to the development of art. The GWAA has ensured the hosting of an annual exhibition since 2008 along with the International Women’s Day Exhibition in March of each year.
This is as the Association has set out not only to exhibit works of its members, but, on several occasions, has invited other women to participate in its displays.
In addition to giving members an opportunity to show and grow from exhibiting their work, the GWAA’s exhibitions have served as learning resources for students of art, some of whom later join the Association.
The 29th Annual Exhibition of the GWAA kicked off on November 16 and is expected to last until December 23. The showcase is on a daily basis from 10:00h to 17:00h, and is open to the public, free of cost.

A locally made ornament on display at the Exhibition

As such, whether you are a lover of art or simply interested in supporting and celebrating the works of Guyanese women artists, the Association invites you to cash in on the initiative, which aligns with the calls for the elimination of violence against women, the international day for which is observed on November 25 every year. (Ashraf Dabie)
(Guyana Times Sunday Magazine)