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Paint Jamaica; The Crusade Continues


A surreal feeling creeps over me whenever I pull myself away and observe this project from a uninvolved perspective. With that said, I find that even being a part of Paint Jamaica since inception has done little to cushion the mystifying effect that it has on the Jamaican reality so far. It is a first for a lot of things, though it is not the first art project of this nature in this country. I like to say that Paint Jamaica is the exemplary answer, the answer to the questions; What is possible? What can we do?  How can we fix it? The team currently consists of a few individuals such as Marianna Farag, Djet Layne, Matthew McCarthy, Taj Francis, Kokab  Zohoori Dossa, Claude-Michael Pringle,  Randall Richards, Christopher Lee Muray and Myself to name a few. We will in a couple hours embark on our ninth day of painting. Day nine of painting every other day, apparently means most of the murals are either already finished, or close, we work fast.  

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The visual Centre pieces are contributed by the young visual artistes within the team who are given groups of volunteers to help them complete their designs. Then there are the kids.  The community children who have long before us found this warehouse a place to recreate and have fun. The space attracts that kind of peaceful and playful energy that the children are attracted to it, whether it be football, hopscotch, netball, or just plain fooling around, these kids were doing it all, while the project was taking place.  There was an unforced  air of contentment and understanding.

Art is a lot of things, but firstly it is freedom. Freedom to be. It has a tendency to revert the mind to a childlike state, where free form expression is perhaps more acceptable, but also more innate and undisturbed. It is a healing and healing, as I understand it, is the restoring of something to its original undisturbed form. As far back as I can remember, art, whether it had been drawing, painting, or writing poetry, always had a therapeutic effect. As though, after a hard day of failing at all these expectations the world has of you, you can just do something to express how you feel without being judged on it or for it. Going down to the warehouse every other day for Paint Jamaica feels like that. You come down and to paint and need not worry about anything but the paint, the brush and the wall.

7With every brush stroke, the problems and stresses would melt away, and you would be enraptured in this magical process. I believe it was Matthew McCarthy who said to me “Paint is a living thing”. For that period of painting, you would be a kid again and perhaps that is why the kids from the community fit so well in the environment. We were all kids in that regard, we all just wanted to paint some walls. Perhaps it stemmed from an innate need as children to repair ourselves through expression of this nature. This likely means that kids like myself, that used to fill their books  with cartoon drawings instead of school work, were working through something, trying to heal themselves. Attempting to recreate a moment of joy. Human beings are very nostalgic creatures. There are few forces more powerful in us than that desire to revisit the past, to enjoy a tender moment that is already lost to us. The desire to return to a state of wholesome contentment. It is a natural prerogative to create or recreate an experience for whichever reason, and what better reason than for healing. 

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But before all of this artistic and existential communion could take place, a lot had to happen for Paint Jamaica to become a reality. It started with some ideas and first manifested in the digital world as a crowd funding page with a cap of two thousand US dollars. Two thousand US dollars later, we have a huge warehouse, a main sponsor, affiliates and the media trying to get their slice of the Paint Jamaica story. The road to this was long and worth it and the process was democratic. This was perhaps the most social art project I have ever witnessed. Weeks before any actual painting began we went down into the communities as a team to initiate dialogue with the community members. If this was going to be a social art intervention project we owed it to these people to get them as involved as possible. We found out many things in our expeditions including the essence of what these people wanted their space to look like, it was public after all. Democratic art indeed. It was even more fitting that the disciplined group of young men who had started a small farm in their backyard, were the caretakers of the warehouse. These men had various skills and were very devout keepers of the Rastafari faith. They were admirable and proved to be the last missing element to our operation. They prepared lunch for the paint crew every other day and have been a great help to the project so far.

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In the coming days I suspect more magic will manifest from this project. It isn’t merely a singular effort, it is a crusade, to set the art and people free so that we can heal ourselves.  We cannot deny the energies and forces that are moving in this time, conscious waves are resonating throughout the earth. These waves are resonating especially in Jamaia, in the form of a renaissance, a revival or whichever word might be politically correct to call it. Paint Jamaica is undoubtedly apart of this energy.

5Remember to check out the Paint Jamaica page for live updates about the project. Also take a look at, The Paint Jamaica Excursions; Signs and Symbols in the Inner Cities

Photo credit: Jik Photography & Marianna Farag

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Paint Jamaica


Ink.Well Labs

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A group of us Jamaicans, decided to come together to make a change in our home. It was decided, we start deep where the eye of Hurricane Ferocity once would brew- Parade Gardens , Downtown, Kingston. Our mission: catalyse the perspective of the community to an incontrovertible panorama. We’ve scouted for the ideal area, sought it’s approval, made the relevant plans, and began crystallizing the area through the collective creativity of our minds and those who reside within the sphere. Here we are, days upon days after, with the help of the beautiful residents and alfresco volunteers we are here. We are becoming closer and closer to the completing of our project for our brothers and sisters as we Paint Jamaica.

Christopher Lee Murray
(7:40.26.07.2014)

Visit our page on Facebook: Paint Jamaica

Keep up-to-date with our progress and what’s happening on our YouTube Channel.

Find the crowd funding here:

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The Paint Jamaica Excursions; Signs and Symbols in the Inner Cities


Today was the first painting session of the Paint Jamaica project. One of many excursions undertaken by the paint Jamaica team, each one revealing a wealth of enlightenment about the ghettos of Jamaica and perhaps by extension of the world. This place revealed itself to be nothing like the common conception of it, and this reveals literal barriers separating it from the rest of society. Not only has this place been misconceived by the wider society, it has been barred off even in terms of information flow. Most people that do not live in the ghetto haven’t  really been there, a stretch, I know. But the point is, the people who are ignorant of the complex working is Kingston’s Inner cities, have never and may never go there, and that’s the truth. Why would they anyway? The information readily available to them about these settings  describe a hostile, and highly unsafe environment, first and foremost. This place houses many interesting secrets, things that would perhaps be of no interest to regular person. But to a shaman…

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There is always much more…

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Don’t be too shocked…

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Interesting to say the least…

These pieces were found on site at the warehouse in southside, downtown Kingston, where Paint Jamaica’s first initiative is to take place. We can discuss, what our opinions of these symbols mean or what the contributor’s aims and meanings are. We really could and it would perhaps be interesting, for two minutes, or, we could talk about the real stuff. These so called esoteric schools of thought may no longer be esoteric, its right there in the ghetto. The people aren’t fooled about these things anymore, the discussion is happening, quietly as it may be. Where there may have been a Rasta man or two on a corner in these slums dropping gems about life and the universe around us, there is now also the internet. There is no going back now, information is out there and it is changing everything, slowly and perhaps too quietly to be noticed. Call it foresight, sensationalism, intuition, whatever. Facts are facts though.

The fact is these inner city youths are clever and quick, they have very reactive minds because of the constant conflicts that are features of their lives. Give these kids a few years, who knows what they’ll be capable of. Better yet, give them something positive to churn with their minds. Some real knowledge. In the same way most of our interviews of the community members collectively ring of a concern for the youth. The adults easily speak of these gifted kids’ potential, it’s quite apparent actually, these kids are brilliant, extremely divergent in thought. The sole cry of the older generation remain opportunities for the youth to explore their potentials, and enjoy their youth, undisturbed by storms of gunshots and death. When they spoke, these adults, I could see trauma in their eyes as they tried to refer to the problem of violence, only managing to say something as vague and ominous “when di war start” or “when tings get hot”. No one even wanted to get into any real detail, and that in itself revealed that there were real details, traumatizing details. One can only guess what these people have seen, heard and felt that has changed them so much, that perhaps their very DNA is irrevocably altered. In the same way man’s state has transformed over time in response to the features of his environment. Yes, these excursions reveal alot, consistently, and this was only the first official day.

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The gifted children at work, making their marks, their own hieroglyphs perhaps.

 

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Big up Motza di area leader governing things.

 

So far the project has secured four sponsors and has been working in tandem with other entities with like goals and ideals to secure a very impressive momentum. Things are looking very good, the potential of this project continues to surprise and amaze me. My documentation will continue to span over the length of this project, it fascinates me to no end.

Remember to check out the Facebook page to get updates from the movement and show your support.

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Little Chat About World Cup 2014


Wah Gwaan…?

After setting aside some very valuable and perhaps otherwise more fruitful time, to truly consider my opinion of the world cup, I’ve realized why I feel the way I do. Let me first state that, I do not harbor any real hate of the world cup for radical views. Point blankly I find myself uninterested in the happenings or overall outcome of this football contest. There was a time when I enjoyed it when it did afford me certain simple joys as a boy. However in 2014, I find it is simply too difficult to relate to the people involved. Most of these people are players, some are officials, either way stakeholders from that angle are all acting in a professional capacity. These players’ pay checks are outstanding, quite simply, Dem arite. Mi proud a Dem. I think it’s a great competition really and I have nothing against ones enjoying it thoroughly, I don’t pretend that this is a reality that  is going anywhere. I just find it easier to connect with the thousands of people evicted from the favellas just for the construction of the world cup facilities. Forgive me if you will, I have a problem with the abuse of minorities. Yeah world cup is wonderful, big up yuhself FIFA, but I feel more appeased donating that much vigorous energy to causes that are a bit less conflicted. Sure the internet might want to cram its opinion down my throat, and I’m not fighting that, hey if a man wants to dress his wounds with salt then what can I do? I just know I nuh deh pon dat, and I nuh deh pon di world cup. Thats where it is right now.

On another note click here for a short article detailing some of the activities of the art intervention project Paint Jamaica of which I am member. Please show some support however possible, this is a great movement that has been necessary for a while now.

 

 

 

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The Shift And The “Unruly”


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Time is a hell of a thing, and coincidentally because the times are changing, the world including this country is running out of time. Running out of time to control what is happening. What is happening is a shift, some may say it is the cosmos which are aligning, it may just be that people have become tired of the existing narratives of this paradigm. One thing is certain, there is a new energy moving throughout the world and its people. Its quite a grand spectacle whenever I envision it. The youth of the nation staging a coup against the powers that be, overthrowing the monarchies and ushering a new regime. It may never become quite physical and because of that they might never really see it coming until they choose to accept the power and vitality of the energy that is sweeping the earth. I consider that I never imagine things more grand than they are, which brings us to seething question  in your mind. Is this man over exaggerating and unnecessarily sensationalizing a couple coincidental events to a far greater extent than it actually exist? No.

This shift is occurring regardless of how comfortable you are with it, this is not a battle of physical strength or even intelligence, it is not the young verses the old, it is a battle of the energies. A new, more capable energy sinking its teeth into an old dying paradigm.

 

While this shift is taking place there are aspects that still find it difficult to get the next foot in the door. People are trying to redefine themselves through their own lens. Nobody wants to be labeled or branded. In much the same way for the longest time, a large portion of our Jamaican society has, failed to accept the birth of a new energy in its own rite, Dancehall music. Take for example local DJ Popcaan, the unruly poster child for dancehall. His music may never be appreciated by some as true art, but this man is in fact an artiste. He is a skillful rhymer who has, for the greater part of his years keenly observed a culture that is stained by male bravado and has had to, not only come to grips with his reality but also carve a space for himself within it. I find that the number one negative criticism about this recording artiste is how dark and negative some of his songs may sound, and that is a typical of dancehall music, though not all bad. These artistes are expressing in a contextualized way, what they have seen all their lives. Yes it may sound raw and gritty, but have we forgotten that this is the very identity of art itself, the rebellious child of society. So if this artiste who is of sound mind, says he is “Unruly” , I am more inclined to try and understand why and accept that this might actually be his message. I suspect this may even be a bigger reason as to why these kinds of art aren’t favored, because they speak of the wrongs in a structure, though in a very menacing way, but the purpose is to force one to really confront the problems at hand. That is what a great portion Jamaican society has been running from, facing up to the issues presented by an unrelenting and rebellious offspring. That is the spirit of many of the young artistes coming out of these different places in the world, who are theorizing and postulating the identity of a culture through their own eyes. This is happening everywhere, even in the US with rapper like Schoolboy Q that have a very skewed neo-gangster perspective of the world. These youths are unwilling to remain quiet, they know what they want and though they might not have the firmest grips on who they are, they know who they are not and that is what society has been telling them all their lives.

So yes, the old heads are running out of time, and they cannot hide from the wounds they have been allowing to fester all this time. We speak of judgment in these times, but we really have no idea what is coming.

 

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Wrath of God


I read a book recently that expressed a symbolism that stays with me because of its accuracy. Dutty Bookman in his memoir, “Tried and True” , described a dream that he had and an analysis of said dream. It was of baby boys being born with oversized penises, and the analysis further clarified that it was this generation males, being born with a power they weren’t ready to wield. I find it to be very true, in particular, I would define it as a hyper evolved state. We are born into extreme conditions,  it has now reached the point where these conditions begin to manifest in the Jamaican male. It is almost necessary evolution, constantly whipped and abused, it is as if we are born into an armor. A kind of super conscious defense mechanism.

The flaw remains however, the main tool of this facility that is used by young Jamaican males, is wrath. This mechanism, has a supernatural quality to it. The explanations of man continue to fall short of this phenomenon, and although it is temporal and volatile in character, it is not human. Yet it is not divine. Perhaps it is in between, part human, part divine, an outer manifestation of man’s truest state, half divine, half temporal. Perhaps it is the man unconsciously, trying to remind himself of his Kingly, or Godly stature and identity, after all the one thing we all have in common is our stolen identity. It would seem, that in the fight to reclaim our lost identity, it became so relevant for us to find it, that unconsciously it begins to find us, before we are ready. Could the disconnect between the black man and his true self be so vast, that his true self begins to blindly search for him as he himself searches for it?

I have felt it, it is in me, in you, in all of us.  It is a persuasive darkness, an unrelenting anger, a venomous wrath threatening to spill, convincing you all the while that it is righteous and deserved vengeance. It is sweet, because when you give in you feel nothing else. Its a monster, and you know it’s a monster because you have to fight to maintain reason and control, because it is compelling and simple. It is like dry grass, only needing a spark, feeding on itself, becoming a forest fire. It blazes spewing your pain at the world, and when it is done and the embers have finally burnt out, there will be no more pain, just numbness and the consequences of the destruction wrought. Ultimately, it is a limited expression, which leaves casualties too pricy for one to afford. But most of us won’t care, we are pushed, so we push back, because that is all we understand. That is how we know to express ourselves, and that is one of the most sad Jamaican realities.

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Lawless Lawmen; Another ludicrous story.


Pain is probably the most destabilizing frequency to that of happiness. The transition is a complete disturbance. It is movement from a completely free state to a completely strained one. Body tenses, breathing becomes labored, eyes become distant. The eyes are a telling tale, this person is not here in this present moment, they are existing in a very unfortunate time space where both do not correspond. More simply, they physically exist in this space, but the consciousness has been captivated by a moment that has passed. That is what I saw on this woman as she told her tale, she was not here with me and that made me sad.
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But rightfully so. This woman had been put through trauma, attacked by vicious mongrels. Criminals posing as law men, raiding this woman’s peaceful abode, disrupting the abundant energies that she had cultivated for herself. Police officers? More like untrained, left brained, garden variety thugs. The sick part is, most of them enter the system as one thing, desperate. Put a little money in their pocket, just enough to keep them from seeing the real target of their frustration, a gun in their hand, and the idea, that they can do whatever they want as long as they don’t get caught. I mean what really happened to the investigative initiative, the trained eye, the sense of justice, can we at least get that? No? Shit. These particular ones had come on a hint, that this poor lady’s nephew who owed them some money, lived there. But he didn’t, and their first barbaric instinct was to exact their warped justice by taking the woman’s appliance. How fiendish, I failed to see the logic or fairness in that. These men barged into this woman’s home, guns out searching the place without a warrant, threatening to shoot her dog, and ended up taking her refrigerator and her washing machine(which had clothed being washed, don’t forget that). This was completely ridiculous , I was disgusted, Irate. What the fuck is wrong with the police? Is this where things have gotten, that these men and women, have the ability to come into our houses and threaten , do and take what they like and leave without a consequence? That doesn’t make me feel safe at all, in fact these people aren’t my friends, if anything, I need to be protecting myself. I want the right bear arms, since the government is clearly arming people. The whole country going be armed, except me? I don’t quite like that idea. I’m very disturbed.
They had clearly disturbed this woman’s energies, and where I was used to seeing bright, present eyes, there was nothing but pain. These men cannot reason things out critically, they are unfit for the titles, just as those sanctioning the poor training are unfit to lead. This martial office needs to be thoroughly investigated, and I urge we all get with the program quick. Even though they might say, they are the ones standing between you and the hungry gunman, who is standing between you and them. If your answer is no one, then we have a problem.

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