by Kimberley Cummins
If you’re looking for an inspiring story as an impetus for achieving your dreams, a good place to look would be in the direction of Kwami Hunte.
Who would have thought that after being incarcerated for 11 years he would tonight get the opportunity to showcase his art at the PRI.OR.I.TY. exhibition hosted by the Division of Fine Arts of the Barbados Community College and held at the Morning Side Gallery at the school in Howell’s Cross Road, the Ivy, St. Michael? If there was one person who believed this was a possibility, it was Hunte, and he made it very clear this morning in an interview with Barbados TODAY at his St. Michael home.
This showcase will feature his series titled Tropical Paradise, comprising three pieces from his graduation portfolio. Busy finishing some other pieces for the evening’s showcase, he said art was always something he wanted to pursue.
His aunt, Sandra Rock, was an art teacher at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School and to some extent because of his association with her, he was always into painting and colouring books, placing first often in art class. Art, he added, came effortlessly and he knew he had the ability, but “for some reason” he never took it as seriously as he should have.
The father of two said that was until he got into trouble with the law.
“And I actually picked up my art in prison. I took it more seriously in prison because basically I had to find something to occupy my time wisely. When you realise that you are there, you should exploit all possibilities. I always tell myself, ‘yuh got to pull up your socks’,” he said.
That was exactly what he did. Upon his release in 2010 he set a goal for himself to go back to school and he enrolled in the BCC. There he was an outstanding student, even gaining a scholarship. Last year he was one of the students of the college selected for an Emerging Leaders of the Americas Programme Canada-CARICOM scholarship.
In September 2012, he left for Barbados to attend an art college in Canada for six months.
“It was a great experience, very informative,” the 35-year-old said.
“Beyond a shadow of a doubt it did improve my craft because they had classes where they actually prepared me for this portfolio.
“There were assignments where we had to produce 67 paintings so basically it is like coming off a high. Coming off the track running and you gone to a school where everybody now beginning to run, but you already sprinting.”
In Canada he was exposed to digital photography, studio (live drawings), art history, print-making on silk and sculptures, many drawing classes along with a hosts of new techniques.
In addition to success with his studies, he also went on to be a NIFCA award winner for two of his pieces, In De Red and Mother Of Our Children, The Bearer Of Life.
For his future, Hunte said he had already applied to universities overseas, including Yale University.
“I paid my debt to society so I owe no one in society nothing. A lot of people can’t deal with a person who come out and become somebody…, but success is the best revenge. “As an artist you may have a vision, you may have goals but an opportunity is only an opportunity when it presents itself and when you make the best of it, that determines where art will take you — and that is where I will go,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org††