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Gombeys artwork in Maine park hit by arson attack

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Jordan Carey and his mother Denise Carey admire the artwork they created together in Congress Square Park, Portland, US (Photograph supplied)
Artwork by Jordan Carey targeted in an arson attack in Maine (Photograph supplied)

A Bermudian artist living in the US said he was shocked after a sculpture he created for an outdoor art show was damaged in an arson attack.

Jordan Carey, 25, created the artwork depicting two Gombey dancers for an exhibition in Congress Square Park, Portland, Maine, which was targeted by vandals on August 1.

“I was boarding a plane to go to spend time with family elsewhere in the US and received the call from two police officers about the attack. That was very upsetting,” he said.

But he insisted the fire damage to his sculpture New Rhythms had only reinforced his artistic focus.

Mr Carey, who was brought up in Warwick and Southampton and left Bermuda aged 15, said he was disappointed his work was damaged, but that the attack had “energised“ him

He explained. “Most of my artistic practice is focused on empowering marginalised people and this is a sign there is more work to be done.

“It has been energising because it is a signal there is a lot to do.”

Mr Carey added members of the public had tended to the damaged piece and placed flowers around it.

A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Mr Carey’s said the work was designed to highlight “the perspective of both an immigrant and native” in a “tumultuous political climate”.

His mother Denise Carey sent him scrap metal from the Royal Naval Dockyard to use to create his sculpture.

“I wanted to bring the Gombey in to help portray the transition that was happening in Portland and the world as we mark the one year anniversary of Black Lives Matter and the summer of protests.”

Mr Carey highlighted the attack on Facebook the night of the incident.

He wrote: "I called my mother after finding out that the New Rhythms piece in Congress Square Park had just been set on fire.

"The first thing she said was 'this is the conversation, this is why you chose to do this piece’ and that was ‘why Gombey hid for so long and masqueraded in private. This is why you choose to do work surrounding marginalised people’.”

Mr Carey said he did not repair or replace the piece, but kept it in the park as it was until the end of the exhibition.

He added: “I can't bear, despite how ugly it is, to put them away, replace them.

“This is part of their fabric – this is part of our fabric."

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Published August 17, 2021 at 8:12 am (Updated August 17, 2021 at 8:12 am)

Gombeys artwork in Maine park hit by arson attack

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