Back on summer break from Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute in Jingdezhen, China, ceramicist Alistair Stevenson has found ways to keep himself busy as the first artist in resident of Exnihilo Art Center.
Founded by Brian and Blair Anderson and their son, Daniel, who moved to Long Island, Bahamas, from the States, Exnihilo is a non-profit based in The Bahamas and U.S. Since its founding on Long Island, the program has sought to provide artists with an environment conducive to creative exploration while offering a platform for connectivity and intercultural dialogue.
A focal point of the program is residency experiences, which are currently offered in the Washington DC Metro area and Nassau, Bahamas. New Providence-based partners Michael Edwards and Katrina Cartwright organize the Nassau residency program. A residency on Long Island, Bahamas is also in the works.
Growing up on Long Island, Stevenson first experimented with ceramics as a student at N.G.M. Major High School, Long Island, when a local cesspit excavation revealed clay in the area and handed it over to the school’s art teacher. It was around that time that he first met local ceramicist and philanthropist Joann Behagg, who traveled to Long Island from Nassau to conduct a ceramics workshop at Stevenson’s school. Later, while he studied at the College of The Bahamas (COB), Behagg recruited him as her studio assistant. For four years, Stevenson worked and studied under her, leaving only for a job at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF) in 2012. He has since made a name for himself, holding several shows on New Providence to fund his studies abroad.
His talents caught the attention of Cartwright and Edwards, who approached Stevenson, asking him to be the first Exnihilo artist in residence.
Stevenson’s four-week residency began in mid-July and is hosted by COB at a time when the college moves toward attaining university status.
“We thought the College of The Bahamas would be an advantageous starting point for an initial pilot space to embark upon in The Bahamas,” said Edwards, who is also a COB art lecturer. “…There is a particular collective visioning for an arts complex to become a major regional hub.”
As part of his resident artist package, Stevenson has been offered a budget of $1,000 to be used toward the acquisition of artist materials. And, with COB’s entire ceramics department at his fingertips, he now has access to necessary facilities like a potter’s wheel, kiln and slab rollers.
This is particularly important, because Stevenson intends on using the work he creates during his residency to support him during his studies throughout the next academic year. One of the ways he will do this is via an exhibition at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation.
Titled Flourish, the show will also feature the works of Angelika Wallace-Whitfield and Ivanna Gaitor, both of whom also hope to use the proceeds to support themselves at their respective universities.
The exhibition opens August 27 at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation. In the lead-up to it, Stevenson will give a talk at the NAGB on his experience as the Exnihilo artist in residence as well as the direction of his work over the past two years and moving forward.
“From what I can tell, they (Exnihilo Art Center) are trying to promote more art in The Bahamas and getting a lot more art programs going in general, in terms of working with the community and working with artists more personally. So my only hope is that they can grow and continue to blossom. They seem to be off to a good start so I just wish them growth and success.”
To find out more about Exnihilo, its artist in residence program and other developments, visit its website at http://www.exnihiloartcenter.com/.