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The Voice of the Black Community
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Arts and Entertainment

Jamaican hero brought to life with exhibit
 
Published Thursday, July 16, 2009 7:00 am
by Ryanne Persinger

If you look at the artwork of Adeola Fearon you may see a queen looking out into the water.


Or a slave ship out in the distance, money on an island or the beauty of Jamaica’s Western Blue Mountains.


However you see the artwork is your own interpretation.


But when you read the story behind the piece of art you’ll learn the painting is actually of Queen Mother Nanny, a heroine in Jamaica’s history.


Queen Nanny was brought to Jamaica as a slave from Ghana in the 1700s with her five brothers, one of whom became the leader of the Maroons in the country’s Blue Mountains.


Queen Nanny was the leader of successful slave revolts and because she knew the terrain of the mountains so well the Maroons were able to avoid capture.


After Queen Nanny’s death, the Maroons signed a treaty in 1739 with the British to establish their independence.


In 1975, the Jamaican government recognized Queen Nanny by putting her face on a bill.


Fearon’s painting of Queen Mother Nanny can be seen in the “Standing on Shoulders” exhibit at the Afro-American Cultural Center, 401 N. Myers St.
Fearon and 13 other AACC Roundtable artists’ work is on display.


The “Standing on Shoulders” showcase is the last exhibit at the AACC before it moves Uptown in August to the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.


“I was very inspired by (Queen Nanny),” Fearon said. “(As blacks) we have endured a lot of conflict but we still preserve our heritage and sense of belonging.”


Fearon, whose family is from Jamaica and Panama, chose to create art of Queen Nanny’s story because she represents a part of her own heritage.


“She was an example of that guidance and was that for that movement,” Fearon said. “They were able to overcome the slave masters by being familiar with the terrain. She gave people a sense of pride in themselves.”


It took Fearon five days to create the Queen Mother Nanny piece. She used a lot of blue to connect water, the Blue Mountains, and healing.


Michele Parchment, the AACC’s director of education and outreach, says visitors may not always get to meet the artist, but next to each piece of art is the story behind it.


“When people know the story they can see (the art) from other perspectives,” Parchment said. “Because when it comes to art, there’s no right or wrong answer.”


Parchment said “Standing on Shoulders” connects past, present and looking towards the future.


In Shamarla Jaxon Jackson’s art of a 15-foot tall figure accompanied by a three-foot tall figure, it represents generations passing the old with the new. And in ShaNeia Lawrence’s piece, “The Garden of Trinity’s Tears,” you can see a dome, which represents many different things for the artist.


“When you read the stories and see the artwork it all connects to standing on shoulders,” Parchment added. “It’s about how they stood on the shoulders from people who came before them.”


For more information, call (704) 374-1565.

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