Visual Culture: Paint Jamaica Re-Imagines Downtown Kingston

July 11, 2014


LargeUp: You’re a travel photographerโ€”of all the places you traveled to, why did Jamaica stick out to you as the place to launch a project like this?

Marianna Frg: Jamaica really lives up to the national motto “out of many, one people.” There is so much diversity, on every level, and I think that’s why I kept coming back. For a photographer, it’s also a ridiculously photogenic destination. Throughout my trips I also made it a point to spend time in the cities and I met many good people. I met individuals who surprised me and inspired me. I wanted to help change some of the unfair prejudice and perception the [downtown Kingston] area is plagued by.

LU: How do you and your team see Paint Jamaica transforming downtown?

MF: This is all very fresh and new for us right now. Our long-term goals are to build democratic artistic dialogues with underprivileged neighborhoods and change people’s perceptions on art and the impact it can have. Our short term goals are to transform abandoned spaces in inner-city communities collaboratively with the residents. A bucket of paint and a paint brush can go a long way!

LU: Where will the inspiration for the murals come from?

MF: The people in the communities weโ€™re working in are inspiring us! What they tell us is what guides the art on the walls! We go [downtown] on a regular basis and have real, meaningful discussions with people. We talk to everyone! Some of the themes that keep popping up are unity, peace and love. They want to be uplifted. The children in particular are very visual and need to be surrounded with positive messages.

LU: As you know some of the biggest reggae and dancehall acts have come out of downtown Kingston – can we expect to see a celebration of the music in some of the art?

MF: When our project is completed, we would love to celebrate with lots of music. We’ve already met some talented artistes from our inner city community and we want their talent to be recognized! We’d also love to have artistes such as Chronixx, Protoje, Raging Fyah [and] Jesse Royal come down and celebrate with us. Music is central to the community and definitely has its place in the Paint Jamaica project.

Paint Jamaica will be taking to the streets in downtown Kingston July 16 with the goal of completing murals by Aug. 6. Stay tuned to LargeUp for more on this unique project.ย