Guyana Resource Center
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Friday, February 17, 2006
The healing power of painting

From October 30 to November 9, the Guyana Women's Artists Association (GWAA) will host its annual art exhibition at the National Library. The works of seven of the approximately 55 members of GWAA will be represented in the exhibition. Today, Sunday Stabroek features Akima McPherson, the painter.

"Painting is a way of me healing, as a young person there are things one has to deal with and my expression in my work is my way of the healing process."

Born in the '70s, Akima McPherson was drawn to painting through her love for architecture. She said she learnt to draw, then paint and then sculpt.

She wanted to create spaces where one could move about freely, and designing buildings infused with her artistry.

After realising she could draw, she said she wanted to learn everything she could about art, and enrolled at the Burrowes School of Art in 1996, first as a part-time, then as a full-time student. In 1999, she graduated with a Diploma in Painting with a minor in Drawing. McPherson then proceeded to the University of Guyana for two years graduating as a Bachelor in Fine Arts with distinction.

It was while she was at UG that McPherson began her "journey." McPherson explained at that that time in her life she was feeling overwhelmed and used her art to get over her hurdles. She wanted her work not only to affect her but others too, and she wanted admirers of her work to realise that they were not alone.

She recalls that a self portrait of Frida Kahlo, who was physically disabled, had had a life-altering impact on her. McPherson said she felt as one with Kahlo.

Most of McPherson's paintings are abstracts, and she hopes they reflect optimism and give a sense of healing to those who admire them. "They must be uplifting and give the impression of promise and hope, because life in Guyana these days is so depressing."

McPherson says of her paintings: "I want people to react to the paintings, whether they are negative or positive views. Once I get a reaction, I feel good about it.

My paintings are an extension of my meditation. Recently I have been reading and learning about chakra meditation and the importance of colour and the significance of blue, so most of my paintings have blue in them.

"When I am painting, the place is quiet, so all my thoughts flow. At the end of a painting session I am physically, emotionally and psychologically drained. There are things that come out in my work that I didn't want there in the first place but I let them remain because it's going to help me heal and so I leave them in there."

McPherson's first exhibited with the GWAA in 2002 and then again in 2003. She became a member of the GWAA through the insistence of the late Maylene Duncan, who encouraged her to exhibit her work.

She has been the Visual Arts teacher at St Rose's High School for the last four years, and is hoping to do her Masters in either History, Theory of Architecture, Art and Design or Architecture at the Pratt Institute. "If I manage to do the first it will cover everything. I am torn between the two and once I manage to do the programme, when I am done I would return to Guyana and chronicle our Art history and Caribbean history."

Sunday, July 4th 2004
Stabroek News