June 30, 2011

Angelo Rombley’s Internet art for July 1, St. Martin’s Emancipation Day

By Jacqueline Sample

Digital artist Angelo Rombley launched four art installations on the Internet last Sunday in a tribute to the celebration of St. Martin’s Emancipation Day on July 1

The digital art pieces, rendered in a neo-revolutionary street-poster style, are entitled, “July 1 upRising X,” “FreeSM,” “SXM 1848,” and “July 1 upRising.” Rombley is an award-winning graphic designer who lists Fortune 500 companies among his clients and employers.

According to author/poet Lasana M. Sekou, the commemorative collection is “a grafitti blaze of bold orange, yellow, green, black, red, white and blue colors, pitched as emblazoned backgrounds, some composing the Unity Flag like a crest, a stamp, a tattoo of St. Martin, as one nation.”

“The flag is pressed with a visual cacophony of iconic and native symbols of words, dates, determination, and freedom. And like from a mad scientist’s lab, here is a four-piece formula, determined to order ‘the known’ from the chaos of ‘not knowing’ one’s own history, culture, identity, land, destiny,” wrote Sekou in an email to me. He was “lobbying” for House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) to ask Angelo’s permission to upload the four panels on the publisher’s website.

The pro-Independence Sekou has never hid the fact that he is wont to first select inferences of political content in art. Then on to other views. I don’t know if that’s an Nkrumah tendency in the poet about which kingdom to seek first.

What I do know, is that there is of course much more to interpret and experience in these newest pieces from Angelo “The Pixel Pusher.” To have an idea of the ground zero story of Emancipation on the island, 163 years ago, is to see in Angelo’s bright and bold images the “memory” and act of St. Martiners in “The Netherlands part” silently lining the roadsides in 1848, refusing to return to the plantations as slaves (after their kin had just been released from bondage in the North).

There is the lucid dream of a beautiful future for all St. Martin people in the soaring silhouette of the pelican. There is also pure art reaching out, as if each time you look at the light and form of the posters, they are just emerging from the artistic genie that Angelo Rombley seems to have trapped, in a place that he and Sekou call “the lab.”

“Angelo’s art forces what is ordinary in any of us to collapse before creative statements of beauty and power. His work speaks in tongues, for who have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart, in this case, to love St. Martin in utterly new and unique ways,” wrote Sekou about the July 1 Emancipation tribute.

Rombley can speak for himself to. “Art is also inspired by culture, history, freedom, democracy. Art can creatively record the history that our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents made and lived,” said Rombley.

“These four digital art posters will hopefully have in them reflections that inspire aspects of the new history that we are making, and the new life that we are creating and living in St. Martin,” said Rombley.

Rombley launched three of the freedom tribute posters on Facebook from his “Work” album on Sunday, June 26, 2011. http://www.facebook.com/arombley.

Following an interview with the artist for Offshore Editing Services, HNP exhibited the full series of four panels, each with its description, at its Nehesi House Facebook for public viewing. http://www.facebook.com/nehesipublishers. The art will in short be at HNP’s website, which already profiles a number of artists and their work http://www.houseofnehesipublish.com/art_revue2028.html.

Rombley said that opting for the Internet to present his new series may be partly “a generation thing, the way we are using the new media and digital devices.” It surely allows for a social network and general Internet preview of the new digital art collection that he is “building.” His last exhibit on the island was in 2005. 

Rombley has had a long artistic and professional collaboration with Sekou and HNP. He has designed or co-designed a number of HNP book covers, such as the cover and book design for the new titles From Yvette’s Kitchen… and St. Martin Talk.

St. Martin people, freedom-loving friends and art lovers throughout the Caribbean and around the world, I invite you to enjoy the Emancipation tribute art posters by St. Martin’s leading digital artist, Angelo Rombley. 


Angelo Rombley
Jacqueline Sample
Lasana M. Sekou


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