Renowned Guyanese artist collapses, dies on New York vacation
By Urrell Wilkinson in New York
August 8, 2003
BROOKLYN, NY -- Renowned Guyanese artist and illustrator, Emerson Samuels, collapsed and died from a massive heart attack while
vacationing in New York Wednesday evening.
Samuels, 75, was awarded the Golden Arrowhead of Achievement by the Guyana Government for his contribution to the art field in a career that spanned several decades dating back to pre-independence British Guiana.
The veteran artist is best remembered for his portrait of the late
Guyana President Forbes Burnham, which adorns the Parliament Chamber. He delivered the portrait to the former president was on August 4, 1984 - just a year and two days before Burnham himself died at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
In a cruel and ironic twist, Samuels succumbed to the massive heart
attack at the Brookdale Medical Center in Brooklyn exactly 18 years to the day the man he painted - Burnham - died.
Samuels, who worked with the Ministry of Education for more than a
Quarter century, was also well remembered for designing the emblem for the now-defunct Guyana National Service (GNS), the memorial and the school badge of the prestigious President's College on the East Coast.
He also designed several commemorative national stamps for the Guyana Post Office, including ones with former Guyana and West Indies cricket captain, Clive Lloyd, national slave hero Cuffy and yet another to celebrate 100 years for Guyana's teachers.
At the time of his death, he was on annual vacation and was visiting
relatives in the U.S for the first time. He was scheduled to return to
Guyana in mid-September to resume work as Curriculum Artist Illustrator at the National Centre for Educational Research and Development (NCERD) in Kingston.
He won the coveted Guianese Art Group's fifth annual exhibition with
his painting entitled "The Workers" in 1949 at the age of 21. Another well-known Guyanese artist, the late Marjorie Broodhagen, also received favorable reviews at that exhibition more than five decades ago.
He leaves to mourn his wife of over 20 years, Gladys and seven Children.