“It’s in that place of non-judgment where art expands the possibilities”-Georgia Fullerton
Jamaica is the homeland to many great persons who have moved to make a name for themselves in other parts of the world. One great Portland born female is Georgia Fullerton, who was born in Buff Bay in 1965.
Although her family moved to Alberta Canada, two years after she was born, Fullerton, the second of four children, grew up knowing her heritage and longed to go back to Jamaica. In 1974, Georgia and her family visited Jamaica after being away for seven years in Canada. Her awesome memories of her native land have kept her returning to Jamaica along with her 12-year old daughter, India, on a regular basis.
She found that her inspiration to draw and later become a fine artist came from her mother who was an artist educator. She was exposed to many diverse and rich areas of the arts through both her parents who fostered growth of the talents of herself and her siblings.
“I’ve had the privilege of being raised by educated parents who understand the value of the creative arts. My parents were influential in introducing and encouraging me and my siblings to pursue the arts, whether it was visual arts, dance, music or drama. They sacrificed many things in order to give us a great upbringing. They stand as the primary influencers of all of my endeavors and still hold that space today. Next to them I would have to say that other artists that I meet and collaborate with have a great deal of influence and inspiration for me in art and in life.” – Georgia Fullerton, in an exclusive interview with The Caribbean Current.
Fullerton distinctly remembers that her mother would bring home lithographs and charcoal drawings of her assignments from her Master’s classes and Georgia’s interest peaked. She then began exploring her own talents and creativity and throughout her academic education her family, especially her parents remained a guiding force in her art career.
My mother kept love letters from my father when she was in Jamaica and he had come up to Canada to secure a job in 1967. When I was about 11 she was going through them and found one letter that she had written to say that “Georgia” wanted to leave a little note. There, at the end of the letter was a little scribble by me at the age of 2. So I suppose that was my first indication of my desire to make marks.” – Georgia Fullerton, in an exclusive interview with The Caribbean Current.
However, she could remember that she began to draw at the age of nine or ten when she would sneak to her bedroom; she hasn’t stopped since.
She found her greatest foundation for her art was built during her college years, as she focused primarily on printmaking. She was able to transition from learning traditional printmaking methods, such as lithography, silkscreen and metal plate etching into leading edge apparel and digital print. Twenty years of her life was dedicated to printmaking and that industry until a traumatic experience forced her to revisit painting and drawing in a new way.
She realized her gift and power to help people through having gone through her traumatic experience—having been physically abused by someone she dated.
“My brush became my healing stick, so to speak. I had the experience of seeing art as having multiple purposes, and more than just nice images to view and hang in your home or office. I happened to meet a former graduate and standup comedian who studied at the CREATE (Centre for Expressive Arts Therapy and Education)….. Having lived through this, I found myself in a small bedroom surrounded by my paints, brushes and canvasses. This was the time that I used my art not only to create, but to re-create a version of myself. I became healed through art making and had a felt sense that this was my true calling. Understanding myself as a whole artist – I began to transform in a whirlwind of bravery, compassion and empathy.” – Georgia Fullerton, in an exclusive interview with The Caribbean Current.
Fullerton leans to the relationships, both representational and non-representational works of art when she creates a piece; she seeks out the relationship which happens during the creation of the drawing as well as within the image. She believes her work has an emotional edge, always having a theme being brought across by emotion.
“The work I created from about 1994 up until 2009 was primarily portraits and figurative, so there was no real symbolism that identified it as my style. I’ve never used symbols in my art, but instead I would use real objects such as hair, wood, flower petals and other plant life.” – Georgia Fullerton, in an exclusive interview with The Caribbean Current.
Even if no one understands her art at times, Fullerton says that it’s important to keep creating it. She believes that artists have to have patience and feel comfortable in the discomfort of isolation sometimes – especially when creating art. She also feels that it is integral for artists to develop a network of support to therefore inspire each other. She adds that it is through this building of relationship is what gives artists their integrity, voice and vision; it helped her to realize some of her gifts.
Sometimes she finds the artist world lonely but of late not too lonely since she had worked in print and later transitioning to art therapy and community engagement she branched out and became more social. Nonetheless she still enjoys her alone time and space to reflect on her sense of self.
She has travelled to the Caribbean, parts of the United States, Cuba and the U.K. “The excitement of seeing art from different parts of the world is something everyone should experience if they can, “Georgia commented.
She views the art as authentic and historical and believes that the purpose of art is to tell a story. She especially liked the art of Havana, Cuba – the market showcased phenomenal works which could have piqued her interest for the entire day.
“The best thing about this experience was knowing that the art carried no message of whether was the artist was well known or unknown. All of the work was beautiful and emotional. I will definitely make another trip there and see more of what the art scene is like.” – Georgia Fullerton, in an exclusive interview with The Caribbean Current.
Fullerton reveals that she fits into a very unique demographic as a Black Canadian female fine artist and expressive arts therapist; so she would mentor persons who are interested in art since she shares a wealth of knowledge with everyone.
While Georgia has gotten a lot of positive responses from viewers of her pieces, she recalls that the most memorable response came from a collector who saw her painting ‘Vixen Bloom’. The collector had literally just ended an abusive relationship and walked into Fullerton’s display tent at an art festival and saw the strong image of a female in a reclining pose and became emotional and elated to see that Fullerton had “painted her story”.
“I’m at the last few weeks of a 3 year Expressive Arts Therapy training program at the end of which I will have my diploma and be able to work as an expressive arts therapist in schools, mental health institutes, hospitals and the community at large. I’ve never had to work so hard for anything. But my real pride comes in the fact that for the past 3 years I’ve been juggling multiple roles as I make major career transitions. I started JustGeorgia®; my arts-based small business in 2013, and while building that, I’ve been a student in the course I mentioned earlier. I’ve accomplished many things in my life so far, but what I’m doing now brings the most pride for me. So artist-educator, entrepreneur, home owner, student and single motherhood all stand together as accomplishments that make me proud today.” – Georgia Fullerton, in an exclusive interview with The Caribbean Current.
Upon completing her training as an expressive arts therapist and beginning the process of becoming accepted into the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario, Fullerton plans to build and grow her own business. She is working on a new piece for the exhibition “Art Heals” in June being held at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. She is also starting a new series called “Many Hats”, which she hopes to exhibit in a solo show in the fall of 2016.
“Sometimes, if you just wait it out, and go on about your business without trying to force a solution, it comes – almost as if the old artist has to die before the new one can be born.”- Jane Champagne, one of Fullerton’s favourite quotes.
By Alexandra Daley