Borrowed from a Peter Tosh song title, Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change is The Jamaica Music Museum's latest exhibition curated by music specialist Herbie Miller. Launched to mark the country's 50th anniversary of independence, the exhibition shows how the Jamaica's struggles after 1962 were mirrored in its burgeoning music forms of ska, reggae and later dub, and how imagery on album covers helped promote these sounds and their messages of protest at home and abroad.

Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change is a landmark exhibition that will lay the foundation for future research. The exhibition consists of multiple framed covers laid out thematically and chronologically, occasionally interspersed with informative story boards or cases filled with memorabilia. Reggae music lovers have always known that the designs portrayed on their cardboard album sleeves were often as special as the vinyl recordings they protected. Many hoarded these 12 x 12 inch covers long after their musical recordings had been transferred to cassettes or later digitized. They recognised the potency of this poster format with nascent graphics that portrayed images of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Haile Selassie, or their favourite musicians. The exploration of the album cover as a medium for social change has been long overdue but this exhibition finally makes the connection between music and visual history in a manner that is palpable. Viewing albums such as Jimmy Cliff's Struggling Man (shown here) or Count Ossie and The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari's Tales of Mozambique with Tosh's refrain playing in the background, the show is a reggae music lover's haven and a remarkable resource.

This rich exhibition tells the story of Jamaica's modern music in a way that is  compelling, aesthetically pleasing and informative, but it shies from a visual analysis of the albums displayed. A critical, rather than historical or musical reading of these album covers might reveal other layers of meaning and struggles as yet untold.

It makes sense that Red Stripe beer's new anniversary advertisement with the tagline Cheers to the next 50 will have special appeal to its young hip drinkers. Why not? most were born after 1962 and do not hold the same sense of nostalgia for Jamaica's independence. Instead, this futuristic commercial looks forward, and celebrates achievements to come. In contrast to the scattering of 50th anniversary traditional oil on canvas exhibitions such as Art Jam 50 at Gallery Barrington, Alexander Cooper's Fifty Years Then and Now at Mutual Gallery or DecorVIII's Fifty Years of Female Art, this ad is just as creative but all its visual components are visionary. Its command of new media allows for a slick makeover for Half Way Tree complete with high speed trains and digital news boards, a prediction for Jamaica's hundred metre win in 7.63 seconds and a graphic update of the National Stadium. Perhaps most compelling is its dance hall scene set in Iceland where youths in futuristic, vibrant goth-like garb, party hard. In contrast to the maudlin and ofetn sentimental imagery viewed elsewhere during this season of celebration, it's no doubt that these youths would “rather have red stripe.” The beer's Cheers to the next 50 is a bold, optimistic and visionary statement. Watch the ad.

In August 1962 I was five and too young to understand the important changes happening in Jamaica. It was different for my parents, who by then were immigrants in England; independent, but also locked into a new system of learning and earning that would change their lives and that of so many others, irrevocably. A rare photo of my parents at a gala ball to celebrate Jamaica's birthday shows their optimism about what Independence and the changes in their lives might bring. The ladies at the table are beautiful, decked out in floral satins and strings of pearls that suggest the importance of that night. The men are equally sharp, suited and full-chested as they raise a toast to freedom. The confidence gained from Jamaica's new status helped them and thousands of Jamaican families adjust to the harsh realities of life in England. That all the other couples at that table would move on to Canada and the United States in a few years also suggest the difficulties of this transition, as well as the ingrained migratory restlessness of our people. A lot has happened in the fifty years since that celebration, my parents have since returned home and we give thanks that we can still raise a glass to say cheers to Jamaica and everyone still in the Diaspora. Happy 50th Anniversary!

Exploring identity can be a complex exercise. The exhibition Bricolage of Identities now showing at the Olympia Gallery in Kingston uses the body as a point of entry. The artists, Carol Crichton, Garfield Morgan, Mortimer McPherson and Gisele Gardner come to the human form with different perspectives and techniques. Crichton embellishes her own body prints with characteristic collage and markings while Morgan's more densely massed, dark imagery depicts female bodies that are disturbing in their facelessness. McPherson creates more conventional but expressive portraits while Gardner focuses on the mouth, recognizing how this orifice can reveal a great deal about a person's lifestyle, health, age or even class. Although the 'bricolage' aspect of this show suggests difference, together these works are so divergent that they compete with each other. Gardner's studied painterly style contrasts sharply with the more spontaneous imprints created by Crichton. Meanwhile, McPherson's endearing portraits that are full of personality, challenge the anonymity of Morgan's figure painting. Overall, it is Gardner's mouths that have the last say about identity. These intimate bodyscapes shout to be studied more closely as they lure the viewer into their surreal and threatening cavernous grottos.

Dr Honor Ford Smith is concerned that murals commemorating the deaths of youths in Kingston are being systematically over-painted as part of a clean-up campaign. She views it as an insensitive and brutal act especially since many are beautifully painted. Her website Forever Missed is keeping track of these images before they disappear. Many of us drive by these portraits with glazed eyes daily, not recognizing that like gravestones, these murals give voice to the grief of members of our community. Many of these images portray youths who have been lost to violence but more often these paintings appear when the neighbourhood feels there has been an injustice. Whatever the circumstance, erasing these images adds insult to injury.

Visit the Forever Missed site to support this cause or learn more about these concerns.

In Pictures From Paradise a new book about contemporary Caribbean photography, O'Neil Lawrence explains that the tableau vivant is a staged scene that employs a combination of characters and props to produce a pregnant moment in a story and to elicit “an understanding in the viewer of the story being told.” He appears to be using a similar formula in his current solo exhibition Son of a Champion on show at the Mutual Gallery. The approach is simple, employing photographs of his bodybuilder father, juxtaposed with his own image often against a stark background, or in the case of the video by a coastline.

For those who have been following Lawrence's work, the scenario is a familiar one. We have seen this/his naked form and shoreline before in past shows but the appearance of his bodybuilder father, Mr Jamaica 1966, is a new twist in the plot. In the accompanying video Lawrence tells us, My father’s image is firmly imprinted in my mind and has deeply affected my shifting perceptions of my own body and, by implication, of my own masculinity and sense of self. At first, I perceived this “measuring up” as a problem but I have come to recognize that it is an integral part of who I am...” This narration provides a sense of how this artist is slowly telling us his story, that will unravel with self-exploration and the honing of his visual skills. But this narrative and the literalness of these images is more than the viewer needs to know, since the power of these photographs resides in what we are not told: in what is left...unsaid.

Season of Renewal is an exhibition of art works from Trinidad and Tobago gifted to Jamaica in celebration of its 50th anniversary of independence. The gift is significant one, with a handsome catalogue comprising 72 works selected by Andy Jacob that no doubt cost a great deal to prepare and transport between our islands. Mounted in the UWI Museum, this gift also allows University of the West Indies an opportunity to show-off its new exhibition space that is part of the Vice Chancellery. It would seem like an ideal diplomatic exchange to have our premiere regional university host this exhibition dedicated to Caribbean partnership.

From a viewer's perspective however, this important exhibition including artists such as Leroy Clarke, Kenwyn Crichlow, Pat Bishop, Carlisle Harris, Che Lovelace and Steve Ouditt could have benefitted from greater curatorial input regarding space and planning. UWI's Museum encased with glass, will no doubt be fine for showcasing its historical artifacts and memorabilia but as a gallery space it is lacking in walls and sufficient square footage to mount an exhibition of this scale and diversity. As a result, the thematic aspects of Season of Renewal such as its historical vs. contemporary distinctions or its different range of media were lost to visitors. Art works such as Clarke's An Ancient Sun or Ouditt's Blur BS (2006) were placed in the lobby and estranged from the rest of the exhibition. Odd juxtapositions such as Sybil Atteck's portrait Seated Lady (c. 1950) sharing the same wall with the shirt jack from Chris Cozier's Relic (1992) made for ironic commentary on the art of the pre-independence era. Meanwhile, installations such as Richard Rawlins Chinese Workers (2012) or Cozier's similarly themed Made in China (2010) (shown here) that ordinarily require significant viewing space, were tucked behind screens or generally misplaced.

A great deal has happened in the art worlds of Trinidad and Tobago as well as Jamaica since our independence, and one can only imagine how much better this exhibition might have looked with more time and space to accommodate it. Opportunities to consider these advances are rare and after fifty years we can celebrate that we have the wherewithal to make such exhibitions happen. After fifty years however, it would be good to think that we could also share these mutual gifts with national pride and greater artistic sensitivity.

View the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago's slide show.

Increasing student numbers, pressure on space and the fact that each School of Visual Arts student must present a self-contained final exhibition means that some will draw shorter straws than others and end up in unlikely parts of their building. In this year's graduate exhibition, what students have done with these normally drab nooks and crannies has been innovative and sometimes miraculous. The Visual Communications department has been transformed into a mini mall with the tiniest of studio spaces selling student-designed fictitious products; dub - a strictly roots vintage store; Lacey's Playhouse - a 'sweet' boutique, or Krusha's digital processing centre, all signal their creative use of space. The competition has forced young designers to think critically and multi-dimensionally about their limited resources. One student (Leo Rhule) has transformed an unwanted staircase into a trompe l'oeil  stack of suitcases for his mind mapping travel service while another Nicholas Anglin, has turned a corridor into a pop-up shop crammed with hand printed T Shirts, rucksacks and BE:You posters  (shown here). By contrast, in the so called 'fine arts' Painting, Fibre Arts, Ceramics and Sculpture departments with lower enrollment and more pristine white walls, the comparative use of space is telling and even disappointing. One or two displays such as Ottoa Wilson's collages that resemble paper money, or Esther Chin's sensitively rendered sheets of bougainvillea petals and plastic, establish their presence with ease, creating large, seemingly edgeless imagery that commands the viewer's attention. Others struggle to fill the space with the same sense of purpose or energy. If this final assignment is a metaphor for life in the rough and tumble real art-market then it suggests that those who have to fight for visibility, stand to gain more than who take their talents and resources for granted. View the Gallery.

This week members of the National Gallery community gathered to welcome a painting into its collection by the late Canadian artist Vera Cumming (1921-1996). The painting was presented to the Gallery by her nephew Lawrence Cumming who had overseen preparations for its restoration and journey from Canada. The new acquisition called Jamaican Girl (c.1951) was created by the Vera Cumming whilst she was living in Jamaica and volunteer teaching at the Institute of Jamaica. It depicts a young buxom woman positioned somewhat awkwardly against the backdrop of a revival meeting: a vignette that brings to mind the street scenes of David Pottinger. As chief curator Dr. David Boxer pointed out in his introductory remarks, the painting is significant not just for what it tells us about the artist's spiritual concerns but also for how it demonstrates her stylistic influence on a younger group of artists such as Henry Daley and Pottinger whom Vera likely taught in the early days of the nationalist movement. Working alongside Edna Manley, Vera was one of a handful of expatriates such as Koren der Harootian and Vera Alabaster who used their skills to instruct and encourage young Jamaican artists to paint local subjects. Jamaican Girl is the donation of Toronto based family of Diana Haddad and the late John Haddad, keen to see Vera Cumming remembered with a work of such cultural importance.

We are at Calabash to celebrate its return to Treasure Beach and Jamaica's 50th anniversary, themed Jubilation. For Kingstonians, making the journey beyond the highway, the rural town of Porus, and the slow descent of Spur Tree Hill, the drive is humbling. By the time we complete the long winding road down to the south coast we are like new people, gasping for sea air and better prepared to hear the message of poets and writers as they whisper against the crash of night waves and our sense of wanting. We float through the town dressed in white sheer, head wraps and neckpieces that make us look like disciples from a more beautiful planet. Three days imbibing the salty air and the words of grios such as Adiche, Patterson and Cooper is reviving.The sun, like liquid food seeps through our pores darkening our skin and sensibility, opening us up to our pain and the past. Quenched, we pack the SUVs, turn our backs to the sea, and make the long return home.