10 Facts About Ceramist Gene Pearson

Gene Pearson (Photo by Gladstone Taylor, courtesy of The Gleaner)
An example of artwork done by Gene Pearson, this depicting a zemi.

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, the news of Jamaican ceramist and sculptor, Gene Pearson’s passing left the nation’s arts circles saddened with grief. Pearson, 73 years old at the time of his passing, had established a formidable reputation as one of the foremost artisans in Jamaica, with an expansive body of internationally acclaimed work spanning from the 1960s onward.

  1. He was born in 1946 in Woodhall, St Catherine, and is a 1965 graduate of the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts (then School of Arts).
  2. He was one of the first students of master potter Cecil Baugh, known for using Raku-style firing in his ceramics, which is an ancient Japanese technique.
  3. His style and subject were inspired by the arts of ancient Nubia, Benin and Rastafarian culture.
  4. His work has been used as ‘national gifts’, presented by the Jamaican government to heads of state and dignitaries visiting the island, including former South African president Nelson Mandela, former United States President Bill Clinton, former Soviet Ukrainian politician Leohnid Brezhnev, former Mexican president Lopez Portillo, former vice-president of Iraq Taba Marouf and US banker David Rockefeller.
  5. His work was part of the set of the television series, John  Trapper MD, and has been featured in a number of national, regional and international publications, as well as in leading corporate and private collections worldwide, including musician Stevie Wonder, poet Maya Angelou, singer Roberta Flack, former California Governor and moviestar Arnold Schwarzenegger, actress Diahann Caroll, and author Alice Walker.
  6. His work appeared on the $1.40 stamp released on April 26, 1993, depicting Jamaican ceramics from the Hardingham Collection.
  7. In 2001, he was awarded the Hall of Fame Award for excellence in the field of visual arts.
  8. In 2006, he was awarded rank of officer for distinguished performance in the field of arts. In October 2010, he also received he the Silver Musgrave Medal in the field of Arts by the Institute of Jamaica.
  9. A gallery was opened in his honour, The Gene Pearson Gallery, at 38 Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, Jamaica.
  10. At his 2005 ‘The Earth and Fire Exhibition’, staged in association with architect Tony Constantine at Decor VIII art gallery, he said, “I never stop. I just keep working. I continue to grow like the trees in the mountain.”

Sources:
The Gleaner Newspaper Archives
www.genepearsonstudio.com