Artist Talk with Yrneh Gabon from Jamaica

Headshot-Yrneh Gabon

1)     Is it your first participation to Afrikin Art exhibit?

No, this is my second exhibition with Afrikin. 


2)     What does it mean to you, a black artist?

First, I am an artist of African heritage and history, who has a practice that is deeply rooted in blackness and the issues that we face daily. What Afrikin is doing is acting on its social and cultural responsibilities, in how we engage people from Africa and its diaspora. It is necessary that we re-educate and I am a firm believer in re-education when it comes to history and culture.  


3)     Why is it important, according to you, for Black Art to be celebrated during Black History Month?

One month and a month to celebrate Black History Month is not enough, but anytime and reason to celebrate is worth celebrating and I will accept this.


4)     What will you be presenting at the exhibit?

I will be presenting a new and current body of work that was inspired from a conversation I had with a curator and educator Dr. Babacar Mbow on the book by Ghanaian Writer Ayi Kwei Armah “The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born” Taken from photographs I took during my travels across Africa.These are not portraits, but vignettes of the past and future on the horizon. 


5)     Tell us more about yourself and your art.

I don’t know how to tell you about myself, but if you have specific questions I may be able to answer… Instead I would rather people pay close attention to my Artistic practice and how I engage my community and those on the outside.  I am an artist, activist and a Jamaican, who has worked in the arts for more than thirty-five years. Presently living and working in Los Angeles, California. I will attach my resume and bio.


6)     Who are some of the artists you’ve been influenced by or inspired by?

The classic and masterful Italian painter Michangelo Merisi da Carvaggio, known simply as Carvaggio. I am inspired by the theatrical ways he tells stories and yes, a few of the other masters.

Contemporary artists such as Kerry James Marshall, I worked with him and know he is an amazing and generous human being, Kara Walker, Betye Saar, Jacob Lawrance, Romare Bearden… too many to list but just to name a few off the top of my head. They are in all areas of the arts, singers, dancers, writers, poets, makers of music….They all inspire and nourish my artistic journey and I stand on their shoulders. 


The Assignment Series: A response to the book titled the 2022 Edition of the literary work by Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” (1968).

In responding to the exhibition and panel discussion “The Beautyful Ones Are (Not Yet) Born” I find myself reflecting on some of the many trips I traveled across Africa and always drawn to the children. Through these four images of children, I titled: A Sun Salute, Now or Never,
SeneGambia, and Lone Survivor.

Sunshine Salute” Brings about the conversation within the Islamic faith from the girl to the future of the woman, in a time of women’s empowerment, she is like the rising and setting sun.

Now or Never” is about hope and the future of young Africans navigating a fast-changing Africa, still shackled to ancient traditions and norms, deciding life’s path and direction.

Senegambia” begs the question of why maintaining borders when it is one people with two languages from their English and French colonizers.

Lone Survivor” in search of purpose and prospect, this young boy, sitting on the Ghost of a bike, but resurrected the living spirit of what it means to dream beyond an actual location. I see myself in the heart of the Lone Survivor in search of the tomorrow he will create.

These images were taken from photographs I took, with permission from the subjects. They are not representational, and a cash donation was exchanged for photographs taken. I can only hope that day across Africa, we will know peace and unity as a people.

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