In 1986, five years after her husband’s passing, Alfarita “Rita” Marley founded The Bob Marley Foundation. The mission: To honour his life “through community upliftment initiatives focusing on education, sports, culture, health care and sustainable development with one love, one heart, one voice”. As a part of the year-long programming for Marley’s 77th birthday and to maintain its commitment to culture and education, the foundation mounted an exhibition — Roots 77.
The exhibition comprises 11 pieces selected following an open call to artists living and working in Jamaica. Per the curatorial statement, the artworks are “inspired by one or more of the seven roots of Bob Marley’s legacy: identity, food, fitness, creativity, Rastafari, Jah works and music”. The artists showing their work are from various visual art disciplines: Lindz & Lamb, Ramon Franklyn Christie, Crislyn Beecher-Bravo, Tariq Smith, Delroy Millwood, Howard Moo Young, Errol Keane, Sherard Little, Susan Ruben, Renée Kitson, and Donnette Ingrid Zacca.
Together, the pieces powerfully communicate the enduring legacy of Bob Marley. They verbalise how profoundly Jamaica’s African roots influence creative expression. However, the pieces, too, communicate individually, and some get their message across instantly, while others require inspection and contemplation. Consider Roots 77, the mother tongue and each piece a dialect.
On Tuesday, May 10, nine of the 11 artists and Roots 77 curator Katrina Coombs gathered at the Bob Marley Museum for a private opening. Without considering entertaining a crowd, the artists could view Roots 77 and see how their interpretations melded into a cohesive narrative.“Artists are storytellers of time and experience,” said Coombs.
Roots 77 runs until August 2022.