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Ten Steps For Constructing Happiness by Jasmine Thomas-Girvan

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's guide to balance between life and art

Sculptor and jeweller Jasmine Thomas-Girvan delivered the address to open the 2017 final year show for the School of the Visual Arts at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. While it wasn’t a convocation (the school’s graduation ceremony is in November) it bore many of the markings of such. Thomas-Girvan’s words were like her art - clear, insightful and delivered with precision.

The SVA Final Year show, opened on Saturday, June 3, 2017, and will continue through to the third week of June. The exhibition is curated from the installations created by the final year students - the result of a year of independent study - and so showcases many of the artists likely to become notable figures in the visual arts. The showcase, continued the trend of recent years, including little in traditional painting etc but with striking and stimulating work coming from a range of genres.

There seemed to be particular interest on the environment - especially the ills of massive pollution levels in the sea and in the city - a theme explored by students in sculpture, design and ceramics. Additionally, there was an impressive level of engagement with folk culture and re-presenting it in new and interesting ways from painting to ceramics to game design and illustration. Some artists delved into the presentation and representation of beauty, femininity and the search for identity.

So while the event was by no means a graduation ceremony, Thomas-Girvan’s words felt like a timely hitchhiker’s guide to an artist’s galaxy.

“I won’t be making any typical recommendations,” she said. Instead she would share her own approach to life and art. She spoke about her own journey from art school to rising success in the fast-paced jewellry market in New York where she was quickly making a name for herself yet decided to step away and return to the Caribbean as she decided it was more important to work on her own terms. 

While keeping shy of specifics, Thomas-Girvan also spoke of the impact of loss on her own work, the need for support from family, the value of imagination and ultimately that life and love takes hard work and courage but also needs balance.

  1. “It is useful to acknowledge that we’re multidimensional beings.”
  2. “It does us no good to deny the desire of our hearts. Be true to the earning of your heart while honouring your mission.”
  3. Don’t let others define you. Only you know you. If you don’t give yourself the space to decide, only you will live with the consequences.”
  4. “Don’t ever believe compartmentalization is ideal.”
  5. “Destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working in order to succeed.”
  6. “We only come to know our resilience when tested.”
  7. “Our time on this planet is not only limited but can be terminated without announcement.”
  8. “Glass, like life, is simultaneously fragile and strong.”
  9. “Plan yes, but don’t overthink. Live fearlessly knowing that courage and imagination will be in your tool box.”
  10. “One does not become happy overnight, but with patient labour we can construct happiness.”