Tue | Dec 1, 2020

Laundering for ‘liberation’ - One artist’s attempt at social cleansing

Published:Monday | August 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMJessica Harrison - Lifestyle Writer
Trying to find the time where she actually had her independence.
We wonder what was on ‘Miss Jamaica’s’ mind at this very moment in time?
Excuse me, passing through.
The act of living out loud and making a statement.
Removing the stains of the sterotyped gentrification.

There are some women who live their lives against the grain, while capturing the hearts and attention of all those who come across how they choose to express issues of concern. Meet 18-year-old Akalia Patina Simms, a second-year student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performance Arts, working on graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama.

Simms was raised by her mother in a little district by the name of Heartease, located in Yallahs, St Thomas, and was always considered a little different from everyone around. Growing up in such a small part of the country with not much exposure, little Simms dreamt of brighter days when her passion for acting, dancing, writing, and poetry would make glad the hearts of others.

“I admit, it wasn’t easy growing up in an Adventist home being ‘special’ or even ‘different’, as some say. My level of curiosity and free spirit was ‘too much’. However, this wasn’t so at Excelsior High School. I finally met people who operated similarly to me,” she said thoughtfully.


Forever grateful to her high school theatre arts teacher who pushed her in the direction of her dreams, Simms considers herself a creative.

“I look at the world differently and always come up with a unique way to solve things. Even if it is to just put on a different character showing their conflicts and how it can be solved at the end of the day.”

The Work: Yaad come Abraad Explained.

According to Simms, the concept of this shoot was birthed out of the recognition of Jamaica’s ‘Independence’, all the while showcasing the dependency that Jamaicans have on First-World countries, specifically America. The pictures show ‘Miss Jamaica’ going to America, the land of the ‘free’ to seek her independence equipped with a wash pan, dirty clothing, washing brush, and clothespins to do her ‘social cleansing’.

The hard-working, committed, true in spirit and beautiful young lady chose the cultural mecca of New York and America, Times Square to be exact, as her site to ignite change. Hoping to discover the ‘time’ that she, ‘Miss Jamaica’, went wrong as a country. She washes out the ‘stains of the stereotyped gentrification’, that is the ‘American dream’, and hangs out her new sense of ‘liberation’ to a gentle awakening zephyr. Her purpose for airing out her laundry was simple: to build a stronger and better nation.

When asked about social media’s feedback, Simms said that for the most part, the feedback has been great and she is appreciative of the support. The few who didn’t enjoy the body of work, she sees them as motivators to do better and keep striving.

Go keep up with this young creative, follow her on Instagram @akaila_simms and check out the photographer’s portfolio @gtphotographyja.

How do you feel about this body of work? Let us know by emailing lifestyle@gleanerjm.com.