A critic of imperialism, race and class privilege, sculptor Edna Manley contributed to the ascendancy of a West Indian cultural aesthetic. Her productivity in the creative arts and her promotion of indigenous cultural organizations were vital to the growth of a post-colonial identity expressing Jamaican national unity and cultural plurality. The wife of Premier Norman W. Manley and the mother of Michael Manley, Jamaica's former Prime Minister, she drew strength from her cross-cultural heritage as a British-trained artist seeking to express the collective unconsciousness of her people. Her creative work finds its symbols in the subaltern currents of Caribbean life in the ongoing processes of community-making that forge a national identity out of peoples displaced from many lands. Her art is integrative: Afro-Caribbean and European themes merge in a symbolic universe suggesting “wholeness.” Her self-reflections, in diary form, also illustrate her determination to link opposing metaphors of the self into a central, organizing image.

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