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TO SEPT. 5
Jamaicans living in the United States have more than one cultural hero to boast about. Thanks to Fondo del Sol’s current exhibit, Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, and Patrick Ewing now have to share their stateside fame with a host of self-taught artists. “Redemption Songs,” its title taken from the reggae legend’s song about emancipation, freethinking, and creativity, showcases the paintings, drawings and sculpture of 21 Jamaican artists. Like Savanna-la-Mar-born artist John Dunkley, all have refused to submit to classroom structure: “I don’t think so. You see, I see things a little differently.” Their visions combine the concrete with the surreal: In Everald Brown’s painting Stem of Jesse (pictured), a big eye, a star, and a book of money are interconnected in Masonic mystery; a sunflower sprouts an animal head that eats its seeds; and birds swoop down from behind a rainbow. The artists’s lives were as unconventional as their work: Brown strayed from his Baptist upbringing to build an Ethiopian Orthodox Church, proclaim himself its minister, and carve ceremonial objects; Kapo endured beatings and incarceration because people thought his art was related to sorcery; and when a friend of Evadney Cruickshank refused to teach him how to paint, he pretended he was sleeping so he could surreptitiously learn his friend’s techniques. Whether the medium is enamel or cedar, hardwood or clay, the works in “Redemption Songs” give insight into the lives and messages of some of Jamaica’s most provocative artists. On view Wednesday to Saturday from 12:30 to 6 p.m. to Sunday, Sept. 5, at Fondo del Sol Visual Arts Center, 2112 R St. NW. $3. (202) 265-9235. (Ayesha Morris)