Artist bio

Jemma L. St. Lawrence-Martin (nee St. Lawrence), also known as Fatima Johara-Noor St. Lawrence or simply “Johara”, is an artist living in Charlotte, NC, since April 2017, and who has lived in the New York metropolitan area for many decades. Born on October 3rd, 1959, she migrated with her large family to New York City in 1973 at 13 years old, from the twin Caribbean Islands of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She completed high school as a resident of Washington Heights, also known as “Spanish Harlem”, at George Washington HS, in January 1976, and immediately commenced undergraduate studies at the age of 16, at City College of New York (CCNY), CUNY, spring '76. After exploring a Math major and then Architecture, she settled on Art as this was one of her strengths and her passion. She attained a BA in Art with an Illustration concentration and a minor in Humanities, in February 1982, but is listed with the CCNY Class of 1980, her official graduation year. She had an interest in Black Studies and continued taking courses with the Black Studies department at CCNY after graduating through 1984, thereby expanding her knowledge, the context for the world of art, Black culture and history and exploring topics in Black Studies and Caribbean Studies, colonialism, civil rights and the Harlem neighborhood environment where she spent so much time during undergraduate studies. Jemma’s influences in art began from the beginning of her life in her formative years, as she lived in, experienced and participated in a dynamic culture of her home country. Experiencing the world renowned Trinidad & Tobago Carnivals and the many cultural and religious festivals the people of Trinidad and Tobago celebrated year-round, growing up was like a crash course in live performance arts constantly. Living in her early years in the town of St. Joseph, Trinidad (originally named San Jose de Oruna, the country's first Capital) in a country that is very diverse ethnically, racially, and culturally, and living amongst a population being predominantly of African and East Indian descent with Asian, European, Middle-Eastern and Indigenous mixes, while also living in an amazing bio-diverse tropical environment, these earthly experiences left an indelible mark in Jemma’s life and psyche that would eventually allow her to express uniquely through her art. She was also well aware of historic events like the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power Movement, the important figures of the time such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and who could forget, Stokely Carmichael the propulgator of "Black Power" who himself was a Trinidadian and a man to admire as a young person becoming self-aware. Then, living in the incredibly dynamic New York City environment in the 70s and 80s surrounded by incredible art and architecture everywhere with influences from all over the world, and having studied in a traditional art program at City College of New York, while having the Black-American and Caribbean-American Experience in the so-called “post-civil rights” era from the Bronx to Harlem to Brooklyn, allowed her to absorb incredible amounts of visual, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual references that could be expressed through her art as the realization of all of her experiences has culminated into the unique individual and artist she has become. Jemma was also an athlete and had a strong interest in Fashion during her college years. Over the decades from the 80s to 2010s, Jemma has been a part-time and seasonal artist, who created and designed costumes--focusing on carnival costumes, graphic arts and fine art. She has also assisted in curating art exhibits in the professional higher education setting at a CUNY College in Brookly, NY, and led the curation of an exhibit there Summer of 2011, mentored young artistic students, and worked in her own art consulting agency in New York and in Charlotte, NC through her company, St. Lawrence & Martin September 2014 to March 2020. Jemma has done this while holding down positions of wife, mother/working mother and single-parent of five children. She presently creates abstract works in acrylic and oil and also graphite and colored pencil drawings. She plans on working in both abstract and realism styles, exploring photography, 3-D and sculptural works, minimalism, and adding calligraphic and symbolism to future artworks. She is still working as a part-time artist in 2022 but hopes to transition to be a full-time artist by 2023, to be vocal about environmental, religious and spiritual subject matter, and display her activism voice in matters pertaining to women’s health and women’s progress in society. Eventually Jemma aspires to become an Influencer in the visual arts world.


Rushing Through in God's Earth


Digital Art

Artist Statement

This artwork is one of the abstracts I have created since coming to live in Charlotte in 2017 and making a deliberate decision to restart my artistic career after many long breaks I took to raise a family and have a traditional professional career. I could never do abstract art before coming to Charlotte, sticking to Illustrative and figurative work, realism and portraits. However, this time it was different for me, and in Charlotte, I was able to be free enough having left a stressful life behind in New York, to explore color, texture, spontaneous composition and technique.
My spiritual side had grown through my years of adulthood. Since 2012, I had begun to have strong spiritual experiences and encounters with the Spirit of God, and I wanted to empty and pour out all of the inspiration I was feeling to create and to express the wonder I felt haven been given "inspiration" by those encounters while also wanting to heal from past traumas. I believe that in being creators as artists, God has given us gifts that are a microscopic part of the Essence of Himself, the Greatest Creator. His own creative ability is Magnanimous and we should honor His Greatness, and His Compassion he extends to us in this life.
In creating my abstract works during this time period of 2017 to 2018, I would ritualistically be mindful about relaxing, clearing away all the distractions and becoming one with the Spirit to marvel at God's beautiful colors we as humans can only imitiate while I created artworks. I use all of His visible creation He blesses us with as my references: the blue ocean that is sometimes green, the blue skies, white clouds and white surf, various colors of sand, green trees, many colors of birds and other marvels of nature. I pull from my memories of childhood when I travelled the sandy shores of many beaches and the coastline of my native country, Trinidad. I am a witness to His amazing creations and I find the PROOF of His existence in all I see around me. Charlotte to me was like God's land, an Eden, more so than the New York concrete jungle I had lived in, and the Inspiration in Charlotte was and is great. I am reminded of the song "How Great Thou Art", my Mother used to sing while doing her chores, and indeed God is the Greatest!
I am a Muslim Believer who converted from being a Catholic Christian most of my life up to age 58. God granted me guidance and led me to this new faith practice, and I feel humbled and exalted in knowing that he thinks about me fairly often, it is a beautiful feeling. My experiences and my knowledge of the Gospel and Christian scripture is strong, particularly having a love for Psalms, but the Qur'an I only began to read in 2018 and I now see that "the Recitation" only supports the Scriptures God sent before, as one continuous conversation he has been having with humankind. There is a verse (an Ayat) in the Qur'an in Chapter 55 that is repeated 31 times and states: "and which of God's favors will you deny"? Here, you is plural meaning that many will deny God up until the end of times, and the verses are also asking us how can we deny God's presence, compassion, mercy and grace in our lives for all that he gives us everyday? Just look around and you will see endless proof that he exists as the Consummate Creator. So I am Inspired and I hope to Inspire others as an artist and creator. I intend for my work to Praise God and to speak to the viewers heart and soul. I am contually inspired by landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes and the heavenly realms: the planetary system, and images we see of our vast universe and galaxies that God alone could have created. How could one not acknowledge and praise the God of All of Us, who made you and made me? I intend for my work to continue to be influenced by nature in all forms and to be spiritually expressive. This abstract piece shows the idea of the strength and force of the deep and powerful ocean with blue and green colors and white froth, created spontaneously from imbedded memories that floated out of my memory banks, an emptying of my soul ongto the canvas. It also expresses a divine nature using blue and green hues, a nod to the folklore of Yemanya the ocean spirit, and ultimately the artwork Praises The One God who created all things.

How it fits into contest

Ephesians 6:10-20 verses say: "Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power." I believe that the inspiration for my work, nature and the power of the ocean expresses the beauty and the wonderment of God and what he has created: colors, powerful oceans, beautiful skies, in perfect order and balance. My experiences inform me that strong faith in God can help one to overcome any type of challenge, test or battle, and that one can be assured that "yeah, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of evil, you shall have no fear". My strong faith in God and wonderment at His creation was the intention in creating this piece and ultimately expresses that real faith in God, steady and strong faith in God, is better than anything one can possess in this life, as He will answer your call when you stand strong and steadfast. The artwork is an example of proof of God's existence all around us, and a reminder of the forces of nature that God has created, and of God's presence within us. When we see and know God's power it becomes easy to rely on Him for all things, to stand strong in the face of tests, and with increased and unwavering faith in God, we can face off against anything, as god will give us the Guidance and never let us down. Finally, "Pray that I may declare it fearlessly", means that when one is sure in faith and steadfast in knowing where all help conmes from, one can declare it fearlessly, not being afraid to invoke and praise the name of God. I hope that my artwork is inspirational, and shows the emptying of my soul in creating an abstract that give homage to a small part of God's creation, the ocean.


First I thank God, the Almighty and Creator for giving me the gift of art and for presenting this opportunity to me to submit artwork to Engage Arts. I can also thank my father (deceased) who used to take me on car rides to the countryside of Trinidad when I was a little girl before migrating to the US, where I would see the beautiful coastlines of beaches and the Caribbean sea and gulf of Paria. I have wonderful memories of those times. I also can thank my Mother (deceased) for letting me go with my brothers down to the river near our home in St. Joseph to bathe and swim in the crystal clear waters, trusting that I would not drown on my brothers' watch.

How to Purchase this Artwork

To purchase Rushing Through in God's Earth, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 48", cost is $1,250.00 (the artwork will be delivered framed)
Artist can accept Zelle payments by using cell number 917.392.2909
Square payment: invoice will be created and emailed to buyer for purchasing through credit card. Call or text artist to request payment through Square if interested in purchasing via credit or debit card.
I can also accept Cashapp registered to Jemma St Lawrence, Username: $Jemsaint3

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

Only original art and prints upon request.

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