Sashoy Bewry placed first in the United Nations Jamaica Art for Human Rights visual arts competition open to students at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), held to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018.
Culture is something that sets us apart as Jamaicans, coming from a small island that has been so impactful. So I feel like it’s my responsibility as a young Jamaican and as an artist to keep spreading awareness, rather than risk it being thrown to the side.
There are a lot of articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to choose from. Actually there’s 30! Being an art student I wanted to pick something I can relate to, so Article 27 that speaks to culture was definitely for me – to capture the essence of our culture.
Culture, a human right, sets us Jamaicans apart
In terms of form I got my drawing inspiration from art deco-style. The poster is very geometrical, but flexible, because the characters are flowing and connected – which expresses that all forms of art are connected like how music is to dance and vice versa.
The reactions have been really positive from even before the judging when people were saying it’s different and not like something they’ve seen before. My peers definitely thought I would win before I did. It feels unreal to win because I saw that so many talented people had entered.
I would say the best reaction was when somebody pulled me to one side at the exhibition. She told me that what she really appreciated is how my work can function in any space – that while it depicts Jamaica, you could put in an art gallery in New York and it would be as effective as the National Gallery here in Jamaica.
I want my work to be seen worldwide
They were trying to say that it had this international quality which I really appreciated.
Really this is an honour for me to be associated with the United Nations. I hope that the UN can use it across all their platforms and to spread a message to bring awareness of our culture.
This contest has definitely been a stepping stone to get where I want in my design career.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.