Greetings and welcome to all of you.
We are here to honour and celebrate a wonderful sister, artist, friend, loved one and colleague who has now passed on to the realm of the ancestors. We are here to honour this beautiful soul and a life that all of us here shared in.
Tonight we will do two things, first honour her as an unassuming activist and a Black Woman artist that paved the way for many and who left a legacy of work that has influenced many and will continue to influence the Black creative community and wider community for years to come.
Second to honour her as our sister and dear friend who, we all can all testify and acknowledge the love and support she fully gave with no reservations to her work and friendships.
There are many people here tonight from different periods of Jennifer life who I hope will share with us the time you spent with her to help us grasp the enormous imprint that this little lady made in the arts community and within each of us.
Tonight there will not be enough time, but we hope to give any one who wishes to share their thoughts.
Tonight will be informal as and relaxed as Jennifer I’m sure would like. But there are a few people in here that are key in putting that picture of her life together. So I will read a little of their adventure with Jennifer or I will call on them to help me put that picture together. I will make a few statements in between.
Jennifer was one of the most adventurous people I know. If you said let’s have a exhibition on the top of the Himalayas she would be up for it and be the one at the front telling everyone to ‘come on’.
Jennifer would say I was born... well let’s skip that part as a young lady should never reveal her age and skirt around the question.
She was encouraged to pursue her talent by her mother and did so with a single minded determination that was unstoppable. Her career began in the eighties when a strong sense of Black creative expression revealed it self in London. She was a pioneering Black Woman artist of her time with no formal training at that time, not that she needed any. She also worked with the likes of Soul to Soul and some very important Women art groups. She help to initiate generally and in some respects was instrumental in maintain the momentum of different artistic expression within the Black community. There were no boundaries, to her creative talents and abilities and she embarked on mastering any discipline she desired to express her talents through.
Her works grace the walls of our homes. Women proudly adorn them-selves with her creative gems and in the grounds of different establishment in London her sculptures bring a light and wonder to those who pass them. She brought this talent to Carnivals and street festivals and shared it with children and adults from all walks of life. Her work as an artist took her to many different parts of the world and eventfully back to the place where her parent were born - St Vincent.
But there will be people in here that can shed more light on those things so I will let them do that.
Jennifer Lewis (1966-2012)
There are few that have had such a unique and contemporary vision of Black Women and been responsible for help to maintain a sense of identity through the image in a society that has tried to strip us of it. But Jennifer’s images of Black women have helped I believe to maintain that proud sense of the past a deep sense of spirituality in a form that in this time Women can identify with.
There are few that have done this with such consistence over a period an extended period so simply and with such dignity. Whether she would acknowledge this or not we are and I’m sure, Black Woman, are gratefully for her sharing of these proud depictions of African women.
How we continue her legacy
It is no mean feat to survive as an artist in this society let alone as a Black Women artist but Jennifer did. Jennifer is a testament to what can be achieved without giving up on our principles and values.
External LinksPepperstormAlvin KofiYawArtsForum discussion thread
Guidance: A tribute to Jennifer Lewis
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