Omari Sediki Ra (also known as “Afrikan”) was born in Kingston, 1960. He studied painting at the Jamaica School of Art (now the Edna Manley School of the Visual Arts) and graduated in 1983. More recently, he completed his Master of Fine Arts studies at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. Omari Ra’s exhibition repertoire is quite extensive beginning with his 1983 graduation group exhibition at the Jamaica School of Art and the first Young Talent exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica in 1985. That same year, Ra held his first solo exhibition at the Suti Gallery in Berne, Switzerland. Ra continues to be a regular participant in major Jamaican exhibitions such as Curator’s Eye I and the National Biennial – where, for the latter, he was awarded the prestigious Aaron Matalon Award in 2004. Ra has continually maintained his international presence, exhibiting throughout Europe and the Americas. Important international exhibitions include the 1986 and 1994 Havana Biennale and the 1995 Johannesburg Biennale.
Though trained originally in the use of traditional painting techniques, Omari Ra’s use and forms of media have been developed throughout his career to include found objects, collages, assemblages and installation works. Ra is a fearless political artist - his images and iconography often challenging historical and contemporary issues associated with the raising of African black identity and consciousness.
He also offers unabashed social commentary on Jamaican and Caribbean state of affairs. Ra continues to be an active contributor to the visual arts as an educator and head of the Painting Department at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.