WASHINGTON, DC, United States — Local Jamaican artist Greg Bailey unveiled his portrait of outgoing Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr Carissa F Etienne, today at a ceremony at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, DC.
Bailey, an award-winning fine artist who specialises in depicting persons of colour in the context of post-colonialism, was selected by the PAHO director following an extensive search of Caribbean portrait artists. The portrait took a total of seven months to produce.
Thanking the artist for his good eye and his sensitive representation of her homeland in Dominica, Dr Etienne said, "I am happy that I am painted in my natural habitat so to speak, and where the torrid and turbulent waters of the Atlantic meet the calm Caribbean Sea. This is very symbolic."
Bailey expressed his honour at having been selected by PAHO to paint Dr Etienne. "Representation is very important," he said. "Over the course of the process, I think I managed to do justice to the portrait while successfully capturing the essence of Dr Etienne — her beauty, her warmth, her posture and how she is positioned in her homeland of Dominica."
Dr Etienne, the first Caribbean woman to have served as PAHO director, is retiring at the end of this month after 10 years in the role. She was declared director-emeritus of the organisation on September 30 at the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference.
"From a little girl in Massacre, Dominica, walking barefoot, going to school, being as every other child was. If that child can rise to become director of PAHO, then there is hope for every child that walks the streets of the Americas. And if we keep that in our minds, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that child really develops," she said during the ceremony.
Greg Bailey's recent solo exhibition, Post-Colonial Paraphernalia, in 2021, attracted considerable attention in the Caribbean and beyond. His focus on the use of traditional oil painting techniques to communicate on issues of class, racial and gender politics, colonialism and its psychological residues, has further strengthened his reputation as an astute social commentator of life in post-colonial Jamaica.