Art Supply Drive Exhibition – Sustain. Supply. Demand better.

The Art Supply Drive’s continued commitment to youth arts engagement.

The Art Supply Drive (ASD), now in its third year of donations, is a pioneering new charity. The effort emerged out of a need to bolster the limited materials that art teachers across the nation have access to. The fledgling charity has certainly flourished in its few years, branching out from the donation of supplies into including an exhibition of  student work for patrons to see that their donations are being put to good use.

The reach of the drive has grown to include not just junior and senior high schools in Nassau, its tendrils have extended to cover a family island high-school, now “servicing the archipelago at large” says co-founder of the charity, Orchid Burnside. The exhibition runs through the end of June in the Project Space of the The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB).

The charity addresses the tight ration of supplies for teachers, while also looking to help revitalise the withering numbers of students opting into art electives in high school – not due to a lack of enthusiasm, but because of financial difficulties and the growing cost of art supplies.

Burnside, who co-founded the charity with Jordia Benjamin, has been working in conjunction with Doongalik Studios Art Gallery and the NAGB. Her best moment so far? Well that was, “Last year at the exhibition, a girl was crying because she was so happy that someone bought her work. Her parents were here and they never considered that having their child pursue art was a viable career option. And so, we at least changed someone’s life in a good way.”

And so the charity will continue to inspire students. Burnside seeing the tears of joy associated with the girl’s success was merely an instance of growth that she was able to witness and be present for. However, the largely unseen classroom experiences of students engaging with the materials donated – handling media that they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to – will be palpable as these artists come into maturity in the future.

Sustainability is the name of the game for this bit of limestone we call home. Just as the upcoming exhibition ‘Sustainable Exuma’ will show us, we have the potential to use our landscape – physical and social – to cultivate new growth and life and support ourselves, just as the ASD helps to propagate a new generation of artists.

We are fortunate to live in a diverse and thriving art community, but we cannot seek to sustain our momentum if we do not nurture the interests of those young artists, those who need a gentle nudge to understand that being an artist is indeed a path to follow, not a dream.

Installation shot of the Art Supply Drive Exhibition (ASD) 2016