Get to know the Man behind the Art

Karl ‘Jerry’ Craig was born in Jamaica. He earned the NDD from St. Martin’s School of Art in London, England and an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, USA.

Craig’s desire to help young artists develop has motivated him as an art educator while continuing his own work as a professional artist. From1966 to1971 he was a Senior Lecturer at Avery Hill College of Education, London, England and from 1971 to1981 he was Director of the Jamaica School of Art (now the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts) in Kingston, Jamaica. While at the School of Art, he established departments of Fiber Arts, Jewel Craft and Art Education and expanded the departments of Painting, Sculpture, History of Art, Graphics and Ceramics. From 1981 to 2001 he was Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Education at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica.

He has been a consultant for UNESCO and the OAS in the Caribbean region and a Guest Lecturer at Universities and Colleges in the USA, Canada, England, Finland, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts, and St. Lucia.

His work is represented in private and public collections in many countries. He has held solo exhibitions in Jamaica, the USA and England, and exhibited regionally and internationally in group exhibitions in England, the USA, Canada, Japan, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Mexico, Cuba and Botswana. His work has been purchased by Prime Ministers of Jamaica for presentation to President Regan of the USA and President Nyrere of Tanzania. He was also commissioned on two occasions, by the Government of Jamaica to paint Easter Eggs for the White House Collection.

Karl Craig was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. His parents divorced when he was in his early teens and his mother migrated to England with Jerry and his sister Heather. In Jamaica, Jerry had attended an all- boys school where art was not taught. In London, age 17, he took a portfolio of his drawings to St. Martins School of Art. The professors there were so impressed with this young, self-taught artist, they immediately offered him a scholarship.

He graduated St. Martins with his NDD in graphic art, illustration and painting. Possibly because he had not had art education during his formative years, on graduating, he began his lifelong dedication to sharing his enthusiasm for all forms of art through teaching. He quickly moved up from art teacher in London’s secondary school system to Senior Lecturer at Avery Hill Teacher Training College, also in London. During these years, he exhibited in various London galleries and had two full color children’s books; Emanuel and his Parrot and Emanuel Goes to Market, both published by Oxford University Press.

In 1972, Jerry returned to Jamaica with his wife and two small daughters to head the Jamaica School of Art. He introduced new departments of jewelry, textiles and teacher training and as the School grew, he spearheaded the drive to build an arts campus that housed the Schools of Art, Dance, Music and Theatre, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. As an artist, he exhibited regularly in one man and group shows in Jamaica and abroad.

In 1981, he obtained his Masters in Fine Art (MFA) from Maryland Institute College of Art, USA.             On his return to Jamaica, he was seconded to Things Jamaica, a government center for the development of Jamaican craft. He travelled the island assisting traditional artisans upgrade their skills and find new markets for their work. As part of this initiative, he helped refurbish Devon House, a historic Kingston landmark, to its original Jamaican-Georgian great house style that served as a display and marketing center for Jamaican crafts. In 1983, he escorted Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on a tour of Devon House.

Continuing his passion for art education, Jerry became a lecturer in the education department at the University of the West Indies. He was responsible for syllabus development and national accreditation for art and craft teachers. He supervised art education exams at the national level and was active as an art examiner in the English-speaking Caribbean and as a consultant to the OAS and UNESCO.

Jerry exhibited regularly in one man and group shows in Jamaica and earned his place as a leading Jamaican artist. Always generous in his regard for fellow artists, he was instrumental in organizing and implementing group shows of Jamaican art in overseas venues and for making presentations on Jamaican art at schools and universities in the US and Canada.

He has had numerous international exhibitions, including exhibitions in the US, Japan, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, England and Botswana. He has won many awards and commendations, notably the Order of Distinction, a prestigious Jamaican national honor conferred by the Governor General and the Marcus Garvey Award for Excellence in Art Education.

In 2007 he moved to South Florida and is currently active in the Lauderhill Arts Center, an art collective that provides individual studios and a gallery for group exhibitions.


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© Karl Jerry Craig Art

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