Words by Erin Hansen, Photos and Video by Martei Korley—
Jamaica’s film and art scene has slowly been building momentum with a new generation. A recent international publication pointed attention at two Jamaican artists on a global “30 Contemporary Artists under 40” list. But there are many more talented ones waiting in the wings. Enter stage right, Dion “Sand” Palmer, alias River Sand, the 41-year-old thespian discovered by Melinda Brown of Roktowa for his striking drawings.
Humorous and a little maniacal, the street-taught artist gave us a tour of his work at the Roktowa gallery and art collective, located off Church Street in downtown Kingston. His obsession with birds on canvas–and in turn an obsession with freedom– is pockmarked with large perspectives on a devastated Haiti after the earthquake, and profiles of the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt. Sand is both optimistic and playful, even when wrestling with darker tragedies. It’s likely a trait he picked up as a street artist, which gave him an uplifting nature. Even we can’t help but chuckle as he finishes his tour rolling on giant cement ball (his preferred method of transportation around the grounds of Roktowa, a space that in its former life served as the original Red Stripe factory) verging towards the edge before doubling back.
Watch the webisode below, and scroll through for Martei Korley’s full photo series on this most unique talent.