Jamaican Leonard Morris is among a number of New York-area artists whose works are on display at the City University of New York (CUNY) in the United States. The art exhibition, which opened on January 8 and runs through to the end of February, is part of the university’s annual tribute to the legacy of late civil rights advocate, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in celebration of Black History Month.
Done in black and white, Morris’ display comprises 15 portraits, which he told JIS News, “brings to life the “heroes of Jamaica in particular and the African heritage and influence in general”. Those depicted are cultural icon Louise Bennett; national heroes George William Gordon, Nanny of the Maroons, Norman Washington Manley, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle and Sam Sharpe; late former prime minister Michael Manley; poet laureate Claude McKay; reggae icon Robert ‘Bob’ Marley; US civil rights activists Rosa Parks, Dr. King and Malcolm X; and former South African president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
According to Morris, who is a graduate of the Jamaica School of Art, “my work takes shape around images and ideas that focus on the black experience”. The drawings, which are 30″x 40″ in size, were all done within the last several years and Morris told JIS News that he was delighted at the opportunity to showcase the images and personalities that have helped to shape the socio-political landscape of Jamaica. He described the response to the show’s opening day as “fantastic”. The very impressive, afro-centric exhibition is an annual presentation of the university’s Community Commemorative Quilt Committee and features over 300 pieces on a variety of medium including quilt, canvas, photography, linen, mosaic tile and canvas.