Guyanese immigrant shares his story through art, teaching | Bay State Banner

From construction sites to deserted beaches, Jason Fitz-Gerald has a knack for finding beauty in unlikely places.

The 70-year-old Guyanese artist finds materials left by the wayside and transforms them into paintings and sculptures. His art depicts elements of the black experience.

“Black folks were discarded,” he says. “During the civil rights movement, we were used, abused, thrown out. Hung. Lynched. Homes were ravaged. Broken apart. You weren’t even a human. This is my getting them back together, to make them whole and beautiful.”

When Fitz-Gerald is not making art at his Fitchburg home, he’s teaching English to immigrants in East Boston, where he’s long had a presence. He, too, is an immigrant. He knows what it’s like to be a long way from home.

The artist

The door of Fitz-Gerald’s home, tucked away on a quiet street in Fitchburg, opens to an enclave of African-themed masks, paintings and sculptures. A painting called “Sun Children” features silhouetted figures dancing on wood splashed with oranges, yellows and reds. Another shows a face, shaped around the natural marks on a piece of wood Fitz-Gerald found at a beach.

“My work is more African-themed, so there’s a primitive bent to it,” he says. “It’s not polished and neat, and I think life is like that.”

Fitz-Gerald came to America in 1969. He was 21 years old. Brooklyn was a far cry from the fruit trees and tropical climate of Guyana — and the icy cold wasn’t the only difference.

 

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