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Edna Manley (Jamaican, 1900 – 1987), "Market Women," 1936, Mahogany 20 x 6¾ x 12 inches, Gift of Elsie Myers, 1973.1

Edna Manley, “Market Women,” 1936, Mahogany
20 x 6¾ x 12 inches, Gift of Elsie Myers, 1973.1

Edna Manley, Jamaican (1900 – 1987), Market Women, 1936, Mahogany 20 x 6¾ x 12 inches, Gift of Elsie Myers, 1973.1

About Market Women
Edna Manley’s work can be divided into four distinct periods: Negro Aroused (1935 – 1940), the Dying God Series (1941 – 1948), the Public Year and Public Commissions (1949 – 1969), and a Period of Morning (1969 – 1974).[1] Market Women was created during the Negro Aroused period in which Manley’s work reflected Vorticist, which was derived from futurism and cubism) and Neo-Classical influences. [2] This body of work also addressed themes rampant within Jamaica’s independence movement such as the search for a new world order and the people of Jamaica being aroused to a new consciousness. Manley’s family was engaged with Jamaica’s independence movement and the struggle to free the country from English colonial rule. Jamaicans aimed to instill within themselves national pride and Jamaican cultural values. Informed by this activism, Manley’s work explores joy and grief, love, sensuality, and spirituality, and offers strong, universal statements concerning the role of women in society, like in Spelman College’s Market Women.

About Edna Manley
Known as the “Mother of Modern Jamaican Art,” Edna Manley was the wife of Norman Manley, a Jamaican Statesman and founder of the Jamaican People’s National Party, and the mother of Jamaica’s former Prime Minister, Michael Manley. She was born in Yorkshire, England on March 1, 1900 and educated at St. Martin’s School of Art, Regent Street Polytechnic, and the Royal Academy Schools.  In 1922, Manley moved to Jamaica with her husband and discovered that the visual arts were sorely lacking in that many of the artists were amateurs, painted sentimental watercolor landscapes, and sculptures was all but nonexistent in Jamaica. She acquired several African art objects for the country, organized arts classes, and established two cultural journals Public Opinion (founded 1937) and Focus (founded 1943).[3]  Her efforts ultimately led to the founding of the Jamaica School of Art in 1950. Manley’s impact and contributions to the visual arts in Jamaica left an indelible mark. The Jamaica School of Art is now known as the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts

Edna Manley and the Permanent Collection
For more information about the Atlanta University Coordinated Art Program please see Collection Highlights.

Edna Manley’s husband Norman Manley was the first cousin of Albert Manley, Spelman College’s first Black, male, and fifth president. During his tenure, the Atlanta University Center Coordinated Art Program flourished. Dr. Manley introduced the work of many artists from the Caribbean, including Edna Manley, in the College’s exhibitions and the collecting efforts. Market Women was featured in the 1973 exhibition Edna Manley: Sculptures, Drawings, and Photographs at Spelman College.


[2] David Boxer. “Manley, Edna.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online.

[3] LaDuke, Betty. “Edna Manley: The Mother of Modern Jamaican Art.” Woman’s Art Journal. Vol. 7, No. 2 (Autumn 1986 – Winter 1987), pp. 36 – 40.

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