Young Reneto Fuller moulding a future in ceramics
THE GLEANER met Reneto Fuller at the launch of the Cecil Cooper Foundation and inaugural scholarship exhibition, staged at the Olympia Gallery in Papine, St Andrew, on Friday, June 17, 2022. He was not smiling broadly when he was being presented with his symbolic bursary cheque for $50,000 by Jamila Cooper and Member of Parliament Juliet Holness. But, beneath that stoic look was an abundance of joy.
Cooper is the daughter of the late, great Jamaican artist, art educator and tenor Cecil Cooper, while Holness is the patron of the Cecil Cooper Foundation. The money, which was granted by the CHASE Fund through the Cecil Cooper Foundation, was intended to go towards Fuller’s tuition fees at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
“This award has been a tremendous help for me, my family, and most of all my education. Few weeks back, my hands were on my head saying and asking myself, ‘How am I going to pay my college fees?’ So I just want to give a big thanks for everybody who is associated with the Cecil Cooper Foundation for choosing me and giving me a chance to further my education. I promise to make all the trust that everyone put in me pay off. Thank you again,” Fuller told The Gleaner shortly after the award ceremony.
For him, it was a dream come true. He had an interest in art from he was about eight years old, and when he was in grade four, he heard of the Edna Manley College. “From right there I already set my eyes on a particular goal, of going to the Edna Manley College,” the Eltham High School alumnus shared. “I was expecting great things from the Edna Manley College, because they are the best art college in the Caribbean. I expect to grow and develop my skill as I study. I also expect to become one of their successful artists when I leave there.”
In August last year Fuller enrolled at Edna Manley College, with the intention of focusing on painting. He can draw very well, and has been drawing for many years, but his experience in painting was not much, if any at all. His dream of becoming a successful painter morphed into a blank piece of canvas that suddenly turned into a lump of clay.
“I had no experience in painting before going to Edna Manley College, and that became one of my downfalls when I decided to major in painting. In fact, having the experience and love of something is better than struggling in something that will take months, or years, to understand. Plus, I always wanted my artworks to tell stories in a form, either with clay or other materials to make sculptures,” he explained.
“To me, the word ‘creative’ means to have the means to create something in a form. I’ve always been in love with ceramics from high school, when doing it in CSEC, and because of that I have come to be attached to that art form. In addition to this, ceramics in this modern age mostly gets overshadowed by painting and digital arts, so what I want to do is to bring back people into the world of ceramics.” Yet, he said he still loves painting and will be doing a few painting courses.
Fuller has been dabbling in the world of ceramics at Edna Manley, but how has it been? “Ceramic as a major is something that no simple words can describe. Ceramics can take a lot of energy when making, but when making stuff I find it quite enjoyable, especially when the project is almost finished. And about ceramics, you will always be learning new things,” he replied.
One of the things he has learnt is that different media, such as painting and printmaking, can be applied to ceramics as well.
Fuller is also motivated by the fact that he is the only male student majoring in ceramics at Edna Manley, as he told The Gleaner, “It really gives me a feeling to work hard, build to impress myself and others, learn as much as I can, and, finally, to market my works in the best way possible.”
It has been a good academic year, with some lumps, pun intended, here and there. His GPA is over 3, but there are some ‘tuition fees pebbles’ in the clay that he needs to get out soon. He is thankful for the Cecil Cooper Foundation and PATH bursaries, and is hoping to get some summer jobs to meet his financial obligations to Edna Manley, where he is sculpting his future for another three years.