High in the hills of Jamaica, where hemp plants grow as tall as one’s chest and the pulsating sounds of dancehall escapes from small windows, national pride is displayed on nearly every concrete wall. Murals, hand-written signs, and painted memorial portraits help dot the colorful landscape. In vivid color and sharp black and white, award-winning photojournalist Francesco Giusti documents a culture proudly rooted in art, style, and hometown pride.

Giusti has become as well known for his striking black and white photos photos centered on migration, labor, cultural identity and subcultures as he has for his vivid images of sartorial Caribbean and African men. For his recent extensive series on Jamaica called “Xaymaca” (an Arawak term for Jamaica), Giusti’s eye is noticeably playful, optimistic, even flirtatious at times. Present day Jamaica,with its vibrant youth culture and everyday realities, has become the star.

Giusti slightly pivots his focus from well-dressed men to the every-day styles of Jamaican youth. He also focuses more attention on the tattered infrastructure of some of the country’s buildings, storefronts, and junkyards further away from the touristy beaches. In the 52 years since its independence from British rule, Jamaica’s economy has seen fluctuating periods of growth, stagnation and decline. Much of that declined can be attributed to complex trade agreements and international borrowing. Many buildings are abandoned or partially deconstructed. Some 600,000 people do not own the legal title to the homes they live in, 25 percent of the nation’s population.

But despite these statistics, the spirit of Jamaicans as seen through Giusti’s eye continues to resonates through their style, art, and rich landscape murals that can be seen popping from underneath lush greenery and that adorn rusted metal shacks and dilapidated buildings.

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