By Malika Pryor-Martin
The NAGB travelling exhibition programme, which began in 2015 has just completed its fifth trip overall and has concluded the premiere of its second exhibition, “TRANS: A Migration of Identity”. With partner One Eleuthera Foundation, the NAGB presented the show for over four weeks at the South Eleuthera Mission in Rock Sound, closing on April 13th.
The exhibition featured nearly 20 Bahamian artists with dozens of works selected and curated by a talented NAGB team. Constructed around the narrative of migration, both voluntary and involuntary, “TRANS” moves the viewer to consider that The Bahamas is - from its beginning - a country comprised of many. Many origins. Many cultures. Many expressions. From Junkanoo to conch salad, so much that we know to be quintessentially Bahamian is the product of experiences inherited, at least in part, from some other place.
All of the art selected form part of the National Collection, the seminal body of works collected by the NAGB that - in short - belong to the Bahamian people. NAGB Assistant Curator, Richardo Barrett, who co-curated the exhibition and facilitated the public Curator’s Talk, a standard feature of the travelling exhibition programme, noted that, “After everything is said and done the [most] rewarding part… is seeing the locals interact with each other in the space and engage in conversations about the National Collection. The genuine appreciation for the ability to see these pieces of artwork on their own Family Island is very clear on their faces.”
Although an exhibition was always intended, the travelling exhibition programme has expanded in its two years of operation to include a mural programme and for the first time, in Eleuthera, an open community workshop. These are offerings that come as an addition to the already robust schedule that includes onsite workshops inspired by featured exhibition artists and school visits.
Abby Smith, NAGB Community Outreach Officer is the traveling exhibition’s coordinator and co-curated “TRANS”. She also leads the museum’s mural call programme, so it was no surprise when she proposed expanding it to the Family Islands. “The mural gave Eleutherans, especially budding high school artists, an opportunity to work collaboratively on their story, something that was personal to them and their upbringing on the island.” Seventeen students from across the Eleuthera (including Harbour Island), participated with their art instructors to create a beautiful mural and add to the National Collection.
Commenting on the impact of the exhibition, Smith noted, “Such a dynamic grouping of artists gave Eleuthera a spoonful of our rich art history, which encouraged multiple visits to the space by local and second home owners.”
“TRANS: A Migration of Identity” will travel semi-annually to two Family Islands in March and September (not withstanding threatening weather) through 2020. The end date is a quiet nod to Jackson Burnside, Bahamian master artist and architect who predicted that by 2020, The Bahamas would be visited more often for its arts and culture than its sun, sand, and sea.
To learn more about the NAGB’s travelling exhibition, mural programme and more happening at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, visit www.nagb.org.bs