“I want people to get real curious about Jamaica: beyond the labels it gets tagged to. This is one of the most creative, vibrant, real & raw places out there.” – Marianna Farag.
Graffiti has been shunned by many when they see artists on the road creating their pieces or the finished product. Many artists do not have the opportunity to showcase their pieces and are often left to their own devices like graffiti walls to express themselves. Others have to hide their talents and untapped potential due to not being able to afford supplies or attain schooling to develop their skills. However, in recent years, art has been more accepted as it brings to the forefront not just the talents of the artists, but uplifting messages for all to admire and be encouraged by.
“I am incessantly amazed by the talent that lies here but I do feel that the number of outlets for artists to expose their work is somewhat limited. I’d like to see more “out of the box” ways to showcase talent.” – Marianna Farag .
With the rise of crime in Jamaica, there are various ways that the government and society on a whole, has been trying to decrease this occurrence, but it has been to no avail. As a result, Jamaican citizens remain plagued by the demon, that is crime, as they are forced to live in volatile areas without feeling there is hope for something better.
“We don’t want to see no gun ting in the community.. There are too many funerals because of the gun violence. If they would have said love and peace then these things wouldn’t be happening.” – Orinthia in an interview with Paint Jamaica.
There was hope; hope in the form of art. Art that was unapologetically unique and called on the help of local and international artists to express themselves and at the same time experience how the other half lives. Volunteers outpoured from near and far to join in the movement to colour the streets of the inner city with uplifting messages and murals which intended to brighten anyone’s day. Many individuals young and old, came out of their respective inner-city communities to help and splash a bit of paint here and there.
“This is one of the most magical places in the world. Amidst the organized chaos, there is beauty and serenity.” – Marianna Farag.
The project known as Paint Jamaica did not just transform the streets and walls of the communities to which they set out to inspire, but also unlocked positive feelings that have been trapped in the hearts and minds of the residents.
“When I first heard about the project I thought that this is exactly what the community needs in terms of inspiration, aspiration, a reason to exhale, a reason to strive for something that will pull their minds to another place so that their communities can be a lightning rod for change.” – Ruddy Roye, in an interview with Paint Jamaica.
Paint Jamaica, launched in 2014, promotes social street art, where marginalized communities are transformed through the arts. The aim of the project, as stated by the founder Marianna Farag, is to uplift the residents of the negative stigma which has been tagged on them by the outer population. Although she is the official founder, she acknowledged that the involvement of the artists in the project was so great that, she feels like they are also founders as well.
“Everyone has a different role, we all bring our strengths to the table. The core focus is to change the way people perceive inner city communities and the way people appreciate and treat art.” – Marianna Farag.
Their biggest and most successful project was Parade Gardens, 41 Fleet Street, which has brought many celebrities and people who appreciate the project and art, to the site. While the project relied heavily on crowdfunding, it was also the gracious non-monetary donations of paint and other supplies by many supporters such as Berger, Island Grill, Diamond Paints, Purity, and Tuff Gong, to name a few which, helped them achieve their goals.
“Walking here and seeing this [project] tells me that people can change how they see themselves. It means that there is a need for this. If we call this a garrison, the garrisons can appreciate art – that art is not just for upper class people. There is a need for people to see something that resonates within their own need, their own expression, their own love. So walking here on this platform and seeing this tells me that there is a community that is smiling here in Jamaica and that also makes me smile.” – Ruddy Roye.
Paint Jamaica wants to utilize its social media presence to launch another project called “Artists of Jamaica” which will expose the talents of the Jamaican youth in a non-discriminatory way; regardless of background, gender, or any other reason.
Farag believes that there is a disconnect between the opportunities available to artists and the actual artists when she compares those in Jamaica with those in Europe and America. The places she has lived allow artists to flourish and express their artistic talents as art is placed in high honor in those countries; much unlike in the Caribbean. She hopes that with the execution of this project, the Jamaicans who will be featured will gain exposure and opportunities on a wider scale for their creativity.
“Art is critical & necessary for a culture to thrive. It needs to be respected, preserved and encouraged. It needs to continue to flourish in a contagious way.” – – Marianna Farag.
By Alexandra Daley