Phillip Rhoden was among the recent group of final year students mounting their final exhbition at The Edna Manley College. His body of work was pointed out to me as making a particularly individual statement about contemporary image-making. He seems to point to a newer directions at the college where the ideas approaches are interdisciplinary. In a year where you have a Visual Communications student having a 'painting exhibition' and a Fine art student exhibiting an animation Phillip's statement about his artistic approach sheds some light.
'Visual Activism, is when a person or a group of people, use their artistic abilities to create a series of visual campaigns, to spark social awareness or social change. Visual activism is not just limited to the Visual arts. Music Artist can also be consider as Activists as well, as long as the underlying message is geared towards highlighting or speaking out against something the artist see’s wrong in society. Activism plays a very key role in art, as art sometimes provides a way of communicating to people of different nationalities and religions; the way how you see life, problems you face because of your social surroundings and how you feel about them and what change you would like to see. And through art social boundaries such different languages are diminished as Art serves as a universal tool of expression.
...I have to be very selective when I'm deciding which client, I will use activism as my approach. I find that company's such as Red Bull, to be the most receptive to the use of activism as means of marketing, but it has to be done in a way where its marketable to broad audience without stepping too hard on anyone's toe.
In terms of its role in the art community? I see visual activism as the Spies of Art, just enough of it will make things feel and taste just right. But when its over and done and been thrown in the face of the public on a daily basis, it begins to have a harsh taste, so people try to avoid it. Cause when you take a dirty attribute of society and make it beautiful. You fine that through that artwork, you offer a means of realization to the public without the waste of words.
ART:Jamaica is closing out. This site has been edited and written mostly by practicing visual artist & lecturer, Oneika Russell, since 2006. There are a couple of projects that will be keeping me busy for a while. Thanks for your support and I will continue to maintain our Facebook group and page however. For further inquiry, reach me at Oneika Russell on Facebook or @oneikarussell on Instagram and Twitter.