What do you see when you look at Historic Ruins? Do you see the colors that once brilliantly glowed under the sun or do you just see an old dull structure from a time before your existence? How does an individual’s background shape his or her vision and interpretation of historic sites? It is said that a picture can tell a thousand words but how many more words can a painting tell, if any at all?
Omari Nicholson is a 4th form student of Jamaica College, and he has been volunteering at the UWI Museum for a few months. Though quiet and soft spoken, he has a deep passion for art which seems to be his main mode of expression. Verbally reserved but artistically outspoken, he uses his paint brush, pencil and stencil knife to vocalize his opinion and interpretation of the things in his environment.
While at the museum, Omari was asked to work on a project that could be represented in the museum. One of the main criterion for this project was that he incorporated his passion. This, the museum staff thought, would disrupt the view that history and anything history related is boring. Thus, Omari was encouraged to do an artistic representation based on his interpretation of something historic.
Following a tour of the Mona campus Omari decided to paint the Mona Still House dating 1759. This relic from the plantation era is located on the grounds of the Mona Visitors Lodge. As I watched him interact the ruins in an effort to understand its importance on the plantation, I noticed a genuine interest, which in turn was reflected in his painting of the site.
From a picture of the landmark Omari recreated an image that showed vibrancy. He represented the Mona Still House as not just an old dull structure, but rather a survivor, more than two centuries old. Making the Still House his focus, Omari excluded the people in the image to avoid reproducing shadows in the painting.
When asked why he chose the colours he used, Omari told me he painted what he saw. For us, the museum staff, the deliberate brightening of the colors highlights the strength of the building and its beauty over the years.
While this alteration of the colours may not be a direct replica of the structure it allows one to view historic sites from a different lens, not just an artistic lens but through the eyes of the young. A young heart, a young mind, a young body with a youthful spirit.
Thank you Omari!!!