About the Artist:
Indigenous Garifuna artist from Dangriga, Belize.
My name is Greg Palacio and the majority of my art work depicts my Garifuna culture’s traditional history. Garifuna is an indigenous group, a mixture of Arawak/Carib Indians and Africans. Their descendants could be found predominately in these countries: St. Vincent, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and United States. At one point, our history was oral or told by outsiders so my goal is to document the vanishing way of life through the arts. There are a few Garifuna artists in our nation and two other prominent painters are from my hometown Dangriga but all self-thought.
I am from Belize and my intention is to entertain plus educate the public about the holocaust and plight the Garifuna endured in 1797 during the exile under the hands of the British. Belize is the only English speaking country located on a small strip of land in Central America that connects North and South America. Although we were once a colony of Great Britain, the colonial system enforced on us was bittersweet. We still suffer from economic advancement although we have a high literacy rate. Tourists flock and consider Belize a paradise but from my point of view it is quite the contrary. The lack of basic health care equipment and the poor unemployment rate is inexcusable.
My body of work evokes a compelling story about the African merchants that followed the trade winds before Columbus who remained in the western hemisphere and intermarried with the Indians. In turn, this free society assisted the shipwrecked captives and runaway slaves from nearby islands into their stronghold of St. Vincent. I’ve also done a portrait of the legendary leader, chief of chiefs Joseph Chatoyer and the rise and fall of the Yellow/Black Carib (Garifuna) civilization. There’s scenery of the Carib wars for the land to plant sugarcane and tobacco. But most of all, the banishment of the Black Caribs took a toll. Their resilient survival was based on the resistance to hold on to the language, beliefs and customs. Today the struggle is the assimilation into society in their respective countries.
Although my undergraduate degree is in Game Art Design (3D), my body of work includes pencil, watercolor, acrylic and oil. Many of my paintings are firsthand accounts of my childhood and also there are a few illustrations inspired by knowledgeable elders based on their experiences. There are two pieces very dear to me, homage to my late great cousin, ‘Artist for Peace’, Andy Palacio. Another is the “Cassava Process” because it is a community ritual. My maternal grandmother, grandaunts and their friends would go to the farm harvest the cassava bring it home and under the house they would pray, wash, peal, strain, sieve and bake while singing work songs! Other aspects of my work highlights peace prize winners, prominent athletes and standout entertainers. It especially reflects the social, political and spiritual components of the Garifuna society. However, although there is another distinct black culture, the Creoles that makes up our Belizean population, we also have the original Mayans, Hispanics, East Indians, Middle Easterners, Asians and Mennonites whose lifestyle I try to cover as