By Katrina Cartwright
On the evening of Thursday, August 1st, 2019 the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas welcomed over 250 individuals to the exhibition opening reception and awards ceremony for its annual Mixed Media Art Summer Camp (MMASC). Attendees were comprised of MMASC campers and camp counsellors, their families and friends, NAGB supporters and staff who all came out to support our young budding creatives who spent 2-4 weeks during the month of July working hard to create one-of-kind artworks that spoke to the camp’s theme “Parading through the Caribbean.”
Although the weather was determined to put a damper on the celebration of a major accomplishment for the campers, it could not quell their excitement and joy and the pride of their supporters. Patient parents and friends squeezed into the hot and humid confines of the NAGB’s upper veranda and clapped loudly when awards were distributed and short performances by campers and counsellors were done.
Certificates of completion were given to all camp participants and they proudly walked to the stage when their names were called, especially those who were given special prizes for standing out in the areas of “Most Helpful”, “Most Sociable”, “Most Personal Growth”, “Most Merits”, “Littlest Camper” and “Camp Spirit”. A floating house trophy was given to the camp house with the most merits—this year’s winner was Burnside, which was only a few points ahead of the other house Malone. To cultivate team spirit and instigate friendly competition among campers and counsellors, all MMASC participants were divided into camp houses—named after prominent Bahamian artists Jackson Burnside and Brent Malone—allowing individuals to work to acquire points for their house through team activities and exemplary behavior.
This years’ camp took place between July 1st and 26th and brought 87 campers between the ages of 5-17 years to the NAGB’s campus. Campers spent the entire month of July working and interacting with camp counsellors, camp instructors and NAGB staff at the museum, learning visual art techniques, exploring different avenues of creativity and developing their knowledge of art. They experienced fun, team building activities through weekly house games and the annual mural project, where they worked with artist Jevon Thompson to paint three murals on the NAGB campus.
Murals created as a part of the MMASC programme can be found around grounds of the NAGB and typical remain on display for at least two years. Campers also worked on individual artworks that spanned an array of disciplines, interacted with and watched demonstrations by professional artists and went on exciting, educational field trips. Demonstrations and presentations included short workshop on integrity and honesty with the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG) and a vibrant, interactive drumming performance with Ubuntu. All of these experiences and activities culminated in the annual exhibition currently on display at the NAGB, which has been an integral part of the summer camp since its inception.
The structure of the camp allowed campers to acquire new and further develop existing artistic technical skills while delving into the history, traditions and visual elements of Ole Mas from Trinidad, Rara from Haiti, Kadooment from Barbados and Diwali from Guyana. Their interpretations of these festivals resulted in a diverse body of work that included paintings, reliefs, sculptures, wearable art and a variety of mixed media artwork, the most successful which were selected for the exhibition.
For many of the campers, the MMASC exhibition was the first time their artwork was on display in a public space. After the awards ceremony, they flocked to the Project Space Room on the ground floor of the museum to locate their artwork and proudly show them to their friends and family. Campers could be seen posing near their pieces for photos and excitedly finding their names in the list of names on the wall at the entrance of the exhibition. Several campers wandered among the crowd in brightly decorated head and shoulder pieces that were made by them during the summer camp. Hope, happiness and the enthusiasm that is synonymous with the infinite possibilities of youth, saturated the atmosphere and lent an infectious quality to the festivities.
The MMASC exhibition will be on display untilSunday, August 25th, 2019. A special thank you goes out to our sponsors: The Central Bank of The Bahamas, Aliv, Graycliff Chocolatier, Fusion Superplex, Marco’s Pizza, The D’Aguilar Art Foundation, Bahamas Education, Culture and Science (BECS) Foundation and Virginia Hall-Campbell.