Thoughts on the Towne Gallery, Caribbean Diaspora

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Allusions of Home
Allusions of Home

The atmosphere in the Towne Gallery is one of serenity as I type this.  The fan squeaks faintly, rhythmically in the background, and the paintings on the walls radiate color and stories.  I notice, both because of the title of the show (From the Caribbean Diaspora: 3 Visiting Artists), as well as from the content of many of the paintings that these artists’ own cultures are shown heavily in their work.  Having taken only one class on Caribbean culture at Wheelock College, I felt drawn into a world that I would like to learn much more about.

The influences of each artist’s personal culture is very apparent in their work, and it is thought-provoking at times, as well as informative.  For me, as Humanities major here, it was another wonderful reminder that exposure to new cultures can be so revealing of the human condition, and the values that humanity, as a whole, seems to share.  Some images are in memory, others in happiness, some in sadness, and some just take the time to show the depth that can occur in every day activities.

First I looked at the nine paintings of Gilda Sharpe-Ettah; she uses bold lines and sometimes Van Gogh-esque layers of paint to create a rich, textured story in each image.  Sharpe-Ettah’s work rife with symbolism. Particularly of note to myself was her series of three paintings titled Remembering the Boston Marathon, which really convey a meaningful memorial in honor of those who suffered last April.

Next I walk through the works of Monique Rolle-Johnson.  She has a distinct style in which her pieces are very layered, both visually, and in meaning.  I really liked her uses of symbolism as well, and her technique of layering shapes and then dispersing them.  She uses a lot of paint, and it creates these very contrasted pieces.  The one that stood out most to me was her piece called Four Women, which depicts four women’s faces, and uses a very limited palette, mainly blues.  It has this really interesting frosted tone, and it really makes me wish I knew the stories of the women depicted.

Lastly, I completed the horseshoe shape of the gallery, and looked at the work of Stanwyck Cromwell.  Cromwell’s pieces frequently meander into the realm of cubism, and I have to say, I love it.  I’m not normally a huge fan of cubism, but these pieces are awesome to look at.  Cromwell uses bold colors, as well as pastels, to create shapes and depth in each piece.  I was hooked just on the first piece of Cromwell’s that I saw, Fruit Vendors.  The play of gradients, thick brushstrokes, and just really bright colors immediately drew me in.  Anyone who likes seeing all the colors of the rainbow in a piece of art, this is for you!

As a painter myself, I hope one day to be able to evoke the kinds of emotions that these artists’ works evoke: memory, happiness, sadness, and the wonderful value that can be taken from every day activities.  And if you haven’t stopped by the Towne Gallery yet (located under the Wheelock Family Theater), you should definitely swing by!

About the Author

Rebecca Zaretsky is a Senior at Wheelock College with a double major in Humanities and Visual Arts, and a minor in Art History.  She also is Co-Editor-In-Chief of Wheelock’s Literary Magazine, Catachresis, and she is a Peer Tutor.  She hopes to work in a museum someday. Learn more about the Towne Art Gallery on its web page: www.wheelock.edu/art

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