By Malika Pryor Martin.
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas first introduced its mural programme in 2015 as part of a revamped and revitalised summer camp programme. The murals would remain on view at the NAGB for one year before another artist and group of creative campers replaced it the following summer with new ideas and concepts. Makers, who are both members of the NAGB team and professional artists beyond our walls, contributed to the campus effort. It served as inspiration for hundreds of young people and as creative fuel for the participating artists.
Since then, the NAGB has partnered with area businesses to create public artworks beyond our walls and the museum’s recent mural call, “Tellin’ We Story,” has expanded that conversation as far as Delancey Street in Historic Charles Towne and into downtown. The call’s theme compels artists to engage with either the nation’s folklore or historically significant occurrences that continue to inform its contemporary identity.
However, murals as an art form have been wrapped in collective expression from the onset of their development in ancient societies. Whether considering the cave paintings of the Caribbean and Europe, or tombs in the pyramids of Egypt and Mesoamerica, the works - stories of people on walls - have served as a permanent and long-lasting means of transferring knowledge, history and ownership for millennia. What’s more, in the modern context, murals serve as a visual stimulus and also as vehicles of community and institutional transformation. Urban centres that have experienced economic hardship and decay have employed murals as a means of revitalisation - bringing hope and light to areas blighted by abandoned buildings and empty lots where vibrant spaces once were. Where there are murals, there is colour; there is a tale. There is memory.
As an institution dedicated to the progression and support of Bahamian art, artists and culture, the NAGB has chosen to engage not only our current mural works but with the artists that created them. Customary of our artist talks associated with NAGB exhibitions, the Mural Walk & Talk will supply a brief but lively panel discussion with several creatives, but it will veer slightly as the work on the walls extends beyond the Villa Doyle (the NAGB’s home), and onto the streets. The event takes place on Sunday, February 18th, 2018, from 3 pm- 5 pm. Artists leading the walk and talk, while giving context to their dynamic work will include: June Collie; Avenii Johnson; Angelika Wallace-Whitfield; and Steffon Grant.