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Columbus Rastafari and Martin, Malcolm & Marley

 Belinda Heiman
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The Kings Art Complex was full of life Thursday night as Columbus locals immersed themselves in an art exhibition demonstrating Rastafarian culture. The exhibition was comprised of “Columbus Rastafari” and “The Men, The Message, The Music, and the Movement: Martin, Malcolm, and Marley.” A Members Opening Reception was held in the Elijah Pierce Gallery and ran from 6:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.

Tropical ginger punch, black-eyed bean cakes, and jerk chicken were just a few of the complimentary Jamaican treats served to heighten the senses. Mellow reggae tunes playing in the background created a positive mood. A panel in the exhibition explained that reggae music is the primary bearer for Rastafarian culture, which was made international by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Lyrics tell about harsh conditions in Jamaica, issues of poverty, cultural identity, and racism.

Columbus local, Jennifer Cabrera, 38, was among the many viewers at the opening. She thought the exhibition looked “great” and was very enjoyable. Cabrera is the daughter of the former owners of Skankland, a reggae club that existed in Columbus from 1987-1997. Cabrera helped provide her friend, Ivy Chevers with some of the pieces in the exhibition and linked her up with some people in the Rastafarian community, which she has come to know very well.

Midway through the reception, Chevers stood up and welcomed members to the exhibition as she invited them to gain an understanding of what Rastafari means and where it takes place in Columbus, Ohio. The exhibition hallways Chevers curated were based on her dissertation research at The Ohio State University where she earned her PhD in Art Education.

“I was comparing this to my experience living in Jamaica,” said Chevers. In 1980, Chevers lived in Kingston for 5 years during her time in the Peace Corps. Afterward, she returned to Ohio for 3 years before returning to Saint Ann, Jamaica for another 13 years. In Saint Ann, the birthplace of Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey, Chevers fully emerged herself in the Rastafarian culture.

“In my dissertation I was looking at Rastafarian culture as a means of getting students to examine alternative cultures to see what they could gain from studying them. What came out of my research is just as much historical as it is relevant for art education,” Chevers concluded.

Co-curators of “The Men, The Message, The Music, and the Movement: Martin, Malcolm, and Marley”, Deidre Hamlar and George Miller selected images and musical reflections of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Bob Marley, and other activist leaders. Film, musical tributes, and spoken presentations are the components which comprise the exhibition.

Keturah Bobo, 24, graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design graduate was asked by Chevers to add a piece especially for this exhibition incorporating Malcolm X, Bob Marley, and Martin Luther King Jr. Bobo decided to create a multimedia piece of an acrylic painting with a collage of quotes bordering it. She also incorporated Bob Marley’s lyrics, because he was the musician out of the 3 leaders.

“I’m not good at talking,” said Bobo. “So when someone views my piece, they get to know me.” “I think it’s important to create art that relates to civil rights and history.” “It helps to create awareness,” said Bobo.

The Men, The Message, The Music, and the movement: Martin, Malcolm, and Marley exhibition will continue to run through March 23 in the Elijah Pierce Gallery and Columbus Rastafari will run through February 28th. If you’re interested in expanding your worldview without traveling far, this is a must see.

To learn more about Rastafari, Chevers will be conducting a forum after a screening of Africa Unite 2007 – a tribute and documentary about Bob Marley’s birthday celebration in Ethiopia. The screening will be on February 6th and also include a Q&A session with James Henke, author of Marley Legend: An Illustrated Life of Bob Marley. Admission is $5. Link to Event.

by Belinda Heiman

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