Before COVID-19 shut the world down, Reece travelled to Jamaica in January 2020 to discover the parts of the island that her father knew best. During their week-long road trip, she witnessed rapid development before her very eyes: A highway obliterating livelihoods; foot-trodden paths replaced by new sidewalks; sprawling new ports bringing in numerous ships and cruise liners; and within miles from the popular Ocho Rios tourist destination, families still dependent on the dwindling rivers to sustain their daily way of life. The old and the new clashed and merged throughout the country. Reece’s fast-paced trek is represented throughout this documentary series.
Featured Artist: Jessann Reece
In early 2020, I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica to document my family history and witness daily life through my father’s eyes. Inspired by Bell Hooks’ essay “In Our Glory” and the snapshots of photographers like Liz Johnson Arthur and Jamel Shabazz, I wanted to highlight the unseen and showcase a culture that is often misrepresented in Western media. I was also privileged enough to learn more about how my family history ties into the history of the island itself. I used a single Nikon DSLR with a very fast shutter speed to document my road trip and ended up with a final series of 100 images that speak on my behalf. Despite some rough content, the bold colours of each image are a testament to the resilient nature and vibrant culture of Jamaica. It’s a heritage that although I’m still learning about, I feel blessed to be a part of. It was important to capture as much as possible since Jamaica is currently in a state of rapid economic development. Many of the remnants of my family’s past are nearly gone, so I’ve chosen to continue the tradition of documentarian before they disappear forever.
Jessann Reece is a fine art photographer born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. The main focus of her practice is portraiture, landscape, and documentary. She received her diploma in Business Marketing at Humber College and her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography at OCAD University. During her time at OCAD, she has had the chance to not only improve her technical skills with digital and analog cameras and photo-based software, but she’s developed a more distinct style and vision. Influenced by prolific black photographers like Jamel Shabazz and Gordon Parks, she hopes to continue their legacy by creating a large body of candid, environmental portraits celebrating the unique and diverse cultures within the black community. She also hopes to expand her practice by travelling after graduation (lockdown) to document those of African and Caribbean descent living here, in Canada, and abroad.