port of harlem magazine
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Queen Nanny

Sep 21 – Oct 04, 2023
Praising the Past

queen nanny

The Honoree

Queen Nanny of the Maroons is an iconic figure in Jamaican history whose legacy has been celebrated in poems, portraits, and currency. During a period of 30 years, Queen Nanny was credited with freeing more than 1,000 enslaved Africans and helping them to resettle in the Maroon community. As a result of their freedom victories against the British, two peace treaties were signed in 1738/39 granting the Maroons territorial sovereignty in their remote mountainous strongholds, including what is now the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. Queen Nanny is the only female among Jamaica’s seven national heroes. Her portrait is featured on the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a Nanny.


Jamaica actually sits on top of a large underwater mountain and is home to 4 major mountain ranges. The island is part of the Greater Antilles archipelago (island chain) with 5 other island states.

The original inhabitants of Jamaica, the Arawak, grew corn and yams. Today, the major crops of Jamaica include sugar cane, bananas, and mangoes. None of these crops are native to the island; they were imported to the island at varying times in the island's history.

The Artist's Creative Explanation

“This Nanny Jamaica portrait is one from a series painted with gouache of womxn that inspire me. (Spelled womxn to include trans and nonbinary women and used in intersectional feminism as an alternative spelling.) This and other paintings in the series are on a bold simple background to reflect the boldness of each person. To create the Queen Nanny image, I viewed other artists’ likenesses of her, but I especially connected to her image on the Jamaican $500 bill.”


- Artist Nicole Barrick

About "From These Shores"

From These Shores celebrates the accomplishments of 18 known and lesser-known Africans in the diaspora across time and geography. The 12 panels hang at the Juffureh Slavery Museum, The Gambia and online. Timbooktoo Bookstore in New Bakau, The Gambia and Mansa Musa Restaurant in Takoma Park, MD USA each display one of the panels.
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