Joy amidst sorrow
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Joy in the midst of sorrow by Stanwyk Cromwell
Joy in the midst of sorrow by Stanwyk Cromwell

AT the end of the national and regional Elections fiasco, there will be mixed emotions across Guyana as we will have a victor and a loser; in other words, there would be joy amidst sorrow. Many Guyanese will need counselling because the final results may affect their mental health. I can only pray that sadness does not turn into wrath and that wrath doesn’t lead to violence.

Earlier this week, I came across a graphite and colour-pencil drawing by Stanwyk Cromwell entitled ‘Joy in the midst of sorrow.’ I felt it would be fitting to write about it, given our current state of affairs. The subject of this drawing is a woman. Seated in a frontal portrait position, she appears to be sad or deep in thought. Her skin and clothing are heavily textured and is shaded brown. To the left of her face, is a drawing of her side profile that is shaded using grey tones. Her facial expression in the side profile represents a proud woman. This side profile is larger than the portrait position. She is wearing a headwrap that is rich in colour. We see some of that colour recurring throughout the drawing in the form of motifs (a decorative image or design). She is an elderly woman. Stanwyk noted that grandmothers of colour have always had resilience, despite their current situation. That was one of the few things afforded them and of course, their trust in God.

In my opinion, the message of this drawing is one that demonstrates that “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5. While his focus is on women of colour, being resilient applies to persons of every race and stage. We are all overcomers. Bad experiences should make us stronger and wiser. As we learn from our mistakes, we should share our knowledge with others. Our reaction to adversity should not remain the same. At some stage, we should demonstrate growth and a deeper understanding of how things work.

According to Stanwyk, this piece started with random lines. “I go about my art as I drive. Before GPS, I used to get lost all the time. I still do. But I discovered, even when I’m lost, I’m not. It’s just another opportunity for me to discover a new route.” He further went on to state that he conceives his artwork through his mind’s eye. Even though he relies on his natural eyes for physical guidance, it is his mind’s eye that helps him navigate his work through the corridors of his mind. “It is this sense of carefree attitude that fuels my creative drive.”

At the beginning of his art career, Stanwyk was a realist artist, eager to capture likeness and reality as seen through the natural eye. As he grew in his craft, he began to explore alternative perceptions. I have never seen his realist works, but I am impressed by his current artworks. For this particular piece, I see a combination of both techniques. Like many artists, Stanwyk’s work would go through several stages. At times, a piece would be left incomplete. He would later revisit it. Such is the case of this drawing. While he is attracted to creating random lines, he intended to juxtapose joy and sorrow, using colour and form. “I have always admired the way that Elizabeth Cattlet utilised strong geometric shapes and colour.” He said.

Initially, when I saw the drawing, I assumed that Stanwyk used a textured surface. However, after closer examination, I recognised that there were different textures throughout the artwork. The dispersion of these textures could only be achieved through the skill of the artist. His use of geometric shapes is also very skilful. Although the lines on the bottom portion of the paper are random, they create an impression of the position of the woman’s legs beneath the skirt. The overlaying of hands resting on the skirt adds another interesting element to the piece. There is room for more interpretation of this drawing so I will leave that for you to decipher. Remember to stay safe and in everything rest assured that God is in control.

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