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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Returning the Gaze: Melissa Alcena’s work for the NE9 seeks to challenge the gaze on the Black Bahamian body

Natalie Willis

By Kevanté A. C. Cash. Melissa Alcena’s work is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those of whom dismiss the work of introspection. It causes a discomfort in self; challenges interior and personal spaces and the world around it, especially if that self exists as a Black body traversing through a “post-colonial” society.  As one of the 38 artists supported by the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) in the Ninth National Exhibition (NE9), “The Fruit and The Seed” Alcena’s work delivered nothing short of expectation. Her interpretation of the exhibition’s thematic manifested as works seeking to return the gaze and dispel the notion of “othering”, because truly, what is a “them”? What is a “they” if we are all experiencing the same aftermath outside of British colonial ruling? “Is the island not 21 x 7 miles even though the archipelago far flung? Why do we act as if we are so far apart?” With her biting and intimate suite of images, Alcena poses these questions.  

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Seeing the God in me: Jalan Harris’s "Self-Pollinate" and Cydne Coleby’s "A God Called Self" works

Holly Bynoe

by Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett

Creative practice often opens the earthly self to infinite power of divine intervention.  It is also a barrier-breaking expression and creative practice also allows healing.  Art is multifaceted in its approach to the everyday as well as the transformative or the revolutionary.   The “Fruit and the Seed”, the theme for the Ninth National Exhibition (NE9) provides artists the space to explore moving beyond essentialisms in an expansive way.  

Artists Cydne Coleby and Jalan Harris do just this as they deconstruct the barrier between the perceived (un)beauty of Blackness, the distance between self, God and female expression as well as the space for voice, as postcolonial, decolonial, and feminists critics argue.  The colours and images brought together in dialogue through mixed media facilitate the artists’ journey through trying to understand self. 

“A God  called Self” series  (2018).  Cydne Coleby works on view in the North Eastern Upper Galleries of the NAGB for “The Fruit and The Seed.” Collection of the artist.

“A God called Self” series (2018). Cydne Coleby works on view in the North Eastern Upper Galleries of the NAGB for “The Fruit and The Seed.” Collection of the artist.

Pink and green, nature, the splashy, flashy-vibrant-glitter-laden-fuchsia all transcend boundaries. Colours and style speak to a mode of expression that almost seems Parisian with the aesthetic made infamous by the salons of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s decades when the city pulsed with the arts that would transform the colonial world.  The shifts were coming, the thinkers and doers, artists, philosophers, students, lawyers, and writers inhabited spaces like Paris’ Left bank, where pushing the envelope was commonplace. Somehow the space had been created to challenge the status quo that saw women, people of colour, and children as less than their white colonial, patriarchal leaders. 

The writers James Baldwin and Jean Rhys, and performers Josephine Baker, Claude McKay, and James Joyce, all used their time in Paris around les années folles––the crazy years–– between the wars to deconstruct expressionism which transgressed boundaries and barriers.  People explored the concepts of decolonial thinking.  Paris was not only the home of expanding artistic expression and gender exploration, but it served as home to political ‘dissidents’ and artistic flair.  Paris’ interwar years would change the face of colonial politics and art.  It was a step into Black is beautiful and seeing the God in those who had been barred from possessing rights.   

The trends from French modernism, arise in Harris’s work.  The combination of colour and subject matter are edgy and rambunctious, yet squarely decolonial in the ways they challenge gender confines and the colonial male gaze imposed on all subjects.  Perhaps the work being done for the National Exhibition 9, can be seen as a challenge to whose gaze controls/owns our bodies.  The problem is always as M. Jacqui Alexander claims, the white colonial male gaze continues to imprison postcolonial bodies in a power dynamic that reduces them to subjects of outdated control.  The artists in these works grapple with this gaze, subverting it and using elements of their experiences to speak out against it.  However, Harris also seriously challenges this with the concept of self-pollination.  There can be no binary, which is what so much of cutting edge decolonial thought and art address; this was in part at the heart of the Paris movement.  

Works from      the ‘Self Pollinate” series (2018), by Jalan Harris. VInyl on acrylic,      dimensions variable. Works courtesy of the artist.

Works from the ‘Self Pollinate” series (2018), by Jalan Harris. VInyl on acrylic, dimensions variable. Works courtesy of the artist.

While those battles were fought, today, women are constantly berated into seeing something themselves as other than god.  They are taught from birth, especially in fundamentalist and extremely religious homes that men are better than they are and that they should serve men.  Men are likewise taught that they should dominate women, as they are the superior sex.  This causes endless strife and discord.  Yet, we continue to espouse such violence and to encourage disharmony in relationships that could otherwise be harmonious. Art addresses much of this gendered and disempowering discourse, and much of this is deconstructed by Harris and Coleby’s works.

The gaze that envelopes us is male. The gaze is also further complicated by race, class, religion, ethnicity and myriad power dynamics that we do not discuss, even though they silence most forms of women empowerment, and indeed most people of colour empowerment. Women’s images are usually more damaged through distortion and imposed gendered norms of inferiority and subservience than most male identities; however, the image of women and their relationship in society and with societies also influences how men behave.

In the interim, feminisms has fought to undo the work of damaging and controlling stereotypes of female disempowerment and lack of agency as demonstrated by Gayatri Spivak in her essay “Can the Subaltern Speak” (1988).  Spivak, similar to later wave feminists Trinh Minh Ha, Dionne Brand, Alice Walker and bell hooks, and who may come through Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” concept, deconstruct the primary colonizing gaze.  They also challenge the silences of mainstream western feminisms’ efforts to silence other versions of non-western stories, voices and experiences, especially as demonstrated through Gloria Anzaldúa’s and Norma Cantu’s works from the Latinx experiences. 

Today, the discussion has been even more deeply politicised and nuanced by refusing to accept binaries which leads to the deconstruction of spatial definitions of gender and to the fear of true female empowerment.  These artists’ refusal to accept binaries seems to be spoken to openly in works of female liberation and seeing God in herself, not exclusively in himself or God as male.  

Installation of  ‘Self Pollinate” series (2018), by Jalan Harris. VInyl on acrylic, dimensions variable. Works courtesy of the artist.

Installation of ‘Self Pollinate” series (2018), by Jalan Harris. VInyl on acrylic, dimensions variable. Works courtesy of the artist.

Cydne Coleby’s A God Called Self collage and Jalan Harris’s “Self-Pollinate” series speak to a deconstruction of binaries and learnt toxic relationships with self.  We are taught, firstly, not to love our bodies, and these works, it seems, go into a deep and loving acceptance of the Self.  We are taught to love God but to understand that this is a deeply asymmetric power relationship.  It is interesting though that while we are taught that God is in all of us, we are also taught that “He” is outside of us, and the women are treated differently in his kingdom, all patriarchal and deeply polarized.  This colonial, patriarchal and often misogynistic understanding of self and God causes problems, especially in a colonial post-colony.  Coleby’s women enjoying the god in their bodies may spark unease because it refuses to accept the unhealthiness of how we are taught sexuality.  The masculinist concept that female bodies should not experience joy through sex, as was seen during the Victorian period, (a period that has had lasting damaging effect on Caribbean communities) because its legacy through colonialism has never been decolonized.

 It is so interesting to see the different kinds of conversations young women artists are pushing their work to have with such nuanced challenges to delimiting concepts of self.  They refuse to accept that they have been overlooked or put aside.  This is a space where until recently, art was seen often as male-dominant without having a great deal of female participation.  This idea has changed and is continuing to change. Harris and Coleby push the envelope by deconstructing the binaries that, as their works show, do not exist other than to cause disharmony. 

Harris’s work further deconstructs the body into what does not conform to the binary of self and other.  We are the self, we are the power to create and to be.  The colours between the works and the natural elements borrowed from the environment speak to a blurring of lines between nature and being, which is extremely important to the creative practices. “Self-pollination” challenges the superiority of male over female, of the gaze being always directed towards and around the female body, to fix it in disempowering space where it can only be inferior.

Coleby’s and Harris’s work come together to draw our eyes outside of their comfort zone of female-empowered male privilege to a gaze that, with colour and vibrancy, merges disunity and creates a conversation with self and the God power that created us.  As Coleby notes the worshiper and the worker coexist; one does not preclude the existence of the other. Though our societies continue to insist they do.

Harris’s work uses a body that could be androgynous, but really is not because it self-pollinates.  It merges the human and the natural into a space of flower power through exoticization of the erotic, though already deconstructing the Gauguin image of exotic femininity.  

Black is beautiful female, self, godliness, and self-pollination function in pulling closely towards the Fruit and the Seed’s ideas of challenging the binaries we inhabit. The themes all challenge the imposed socio-cultural religious barrier between seeing God in me, though we be godlike.       

 

“Field Notes on Planting Seeds in Uprooted Gardens”

Holly Bynoe

Tiffany Smith’s Hypertropical Critique of the Otherness, Womanhood, and the Caribbean Image

by Natalie Willis

Lush greenery and deep, verdant darkness dotted with acid yellow and a turquoise too blue to be true - Tiffany Smith is master of the hyper-tropical. Her first time displaying at the NAGB, she is a region seasoned veteran for the Caribbean and Black diasporas respectively, having shown work in the US and in Jamaica for the Jamaica Biennial. Upon first glance, her intentions may be unclear to some - the dizzying patterns of leaves and multichannel videos give the eye no rest, it is a visual onslaught, and it is in this way subversive. Part of a throng of Black diaspora artists using over-embellishment to control space and control and critique narratives, Smith’s work is a confusing melange of generalised Caribbeanness to those without a keen understanding of the region, and to those within it is a moment to contemplate the manufactured nature of what we visually export as “Caribbean”.

“Field Notes for Planting Seeds in Uprooted Gardens” (2018), Tiffany Smith, archival inkjet print, 36 x 48 inches. Collection of the artist.

“Field Notes for Planting Seeds in Uprooted Gardens” (2018), Tiffany Smith, archival inkjet print, 36 x 48 inches. Collection of the artist.

Born to parents of Jamaican and Guyanese origin (the latter having grown up in Trinidad), Smith herself has a story that many of us understand in the region. She was born in Miami, as part of the family plans to gain citizenship and migrate to the US. But until everyone had their “papers”, The Bahamas would serve as home base first, and rightfully so, given its positioning between the US and the rest of the Caribbean. While her work gives us space to contemplate the mythologies and fictions around Caribbeanness as the “brand”, it also gives us moment to contemplate our own nationalist insecurities in the region.

The xenophobia is rife not just in The Bahamas, but in the region as a whole. We love to claim our Bahamian greats, but also stay conveniently quiet about their wider origins - for instance, Lynden Pindling had Jamaican heritage, and that very rarely gets mentioned anywhere except in conversation, let alone media. When the image we put forth as a region is ubiquitous, not allowing for the nuance of our experiences in this magical pocket of the Atlantic ocean, it’s unsurprising that we feel such a fierceness in protecting what feels like fragile, photocopied versions of nationhood.

From the installation “For Tropical Girls Who Have Considered Ethnogenesis When the Native Sun is Remote” by Tiffany Smith

From the installation “For Tropical Girls Who Have Considered Ethnogenesis When the Native Sun is Remote” by Tiffany Smith

It is unsurprising, but it is still unforgivable.

Smith knows this, and it shows in a biting kind of playfulness in her work. She plays with the concept of Othering not just in the obvious sense of Caribbean versus the rest of the world, or Blackness versus whiteness - spaces in which she occupies a very particular inbetweenness. Smith also throws another layer into the mix with the national Othering we enact upon each other as Caribbean people, as many would be split on whether or not to consider her Bahamian. She is, and she claims it as she should as someone of Caribbean heritage having grown up here. But she also claims the experience of being an outsider - one foot in the water, one foot out. It is apparent in one of the films in which she is having her hair braided near the harbour for the cruise ships along Prince George’s Wharf. The lady braiding her hair asks where she is from, naturally, as this is a tourist saturated area, and Smith goes on to explain her heritage - it is both a justification for the Bahamian hair braider, and a validation for herself of her own claim on this space.

Smith shares, “I can definitely say that I am playing with tropes of the tropical and of womanhood. I think what really spurred on the investigations in these bodies of work was in the way that women of colour in particular are represented in the media, and particularly the lack of nuance that’s present there. I was investigating a lot of turn of the century ethnographic images of women of colour and really captivated by the gaze that was present there. Thinking of who was doing the looking, who was doing the posing, how much control and agency the subjects had in the image. Even how much control the photographers who were creating the images had over the way they were eventually read and dispersed after they came into use within society. I was very concerned with how these images were distributed to other parts of the world.  

I think the connective thread is about exoticism. There’s a similar or shared exoticism of “ethnic women” - I hate that term, but the usage of it illustrates the way we are seen en-masse. It’s awful because it’s so nondescript, and it is used ubiquitously to describe a larger section of the populace of this world. It’s a very colonialist term to say that someone is “exotic” and that's part of what I’m examining”.

Our stories are intertwined, and Smith’s videos of “Bahama Blues” give way to Guyanese greenery in the space she takes up in the exhibition - reflecting not just her heritage, but our shared experience. It only makes sense then to recognise our mixed origins, our shared histories, and the fact that we need more than a singular voice to tell the fullness and rich lushness of our stories.

From the installation “For Tropical Girls Who Have Considered Ethnogenesis When the Native Sun is Remote” by Tiffany Smith.

From the installation “For Tropical Girls Who Have Considered Ethnogenesis When the Native Sun is Remote” by Tiffany Smith.

Come see the storytelling in living colour at the NAGB for the newest iteration of the biennial National Exhibition, “NE9: The Fruit and the Seed”. The exhibition will be on view through March 31st, 2019. And don’t forget, this showing of art from The Bahamas is on view for FREE for locals every Sunday, and the NAGB is always free for Family Islander’s visiting

‘Everybody is hoping for something’

Holly Bynoe

Angelika Wallace-Whitfield talks NE9 public project ‘Hope Is a Weapon’

by Kevanté Cash, NAGB Correspondent.

Hope is an optimistic attitude, a feeling of trust, of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. But, what is hope without action? We have become desensitized to the word “hope” in its overuse. The strength and assurance hope once offered us has been replaced with a generic and diluted brand of hope, based on a desire that something may turn in your favor. As a result, hope has been rendered useless in the battle against fear… This public project is how I plan to remind people to employ hope as action again.

 Angelika Wallace-Whitfield’s excerpt from NE9 public project ‘Hope Is a Weapon’  

Angelika Wallace-Whitfield adorns the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ space with her NE9 public project “Hope Is a Weapon”. Images courtesy of the artist.

Angelika Wallace-Whitfield adorns the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ space with her NE9 public project “Hope Is a Weapon”. Images courtesy of the artist.

Wallace-Whitfield, like many of the 38 artists exhibiting or participating in the Ninth National Exhibition (NE9), hopes for her work to drive home the message of “The Fruit and The Seed”, the theme of this National Exhibition (NE). Although this is not her first time showcasing works within a NE, this is her first time delivering a concept independently. 

After three years of studying abroad to receive her Bachelor of Arts (honors) degree in the History and Philosophy of Art from the University of Kent in Canterbury, U.K., she has had much time to think and reflect on what it means to be an artist in the Caribbean and in The Bahamas; move in spaces with her identity, observe the build-up of the arts community and deterioration of artistic venues that hold nostalgic memories of her becoming. She has had time to love, lose and hope for again. These experiences have given her the space to explore herself artistically, professionally and personally, and have allowed for us to witness her here in this moment and time to give birth to her public project ‘Hope Is a Weapon’ for the NE9. 

With this, she has tagged the phrase “HOPE IS A WEAPON” in black spray paint in relevant and thought-provoking spaces in Nassau.

I sat with Wallace-Whitfield to gain a better understanding of how she interpreted the theme and went about “spreading love and spray paint”.

Kevanté Cash: Describe to me the feeling you felt when your proposal for NE9 got accepted.

Angelika Wallace-Whitfield: It was an incredible feeling. I remember being in high school attending the first set of National Exhibitions and being in awe of the amount of works at such a caliber in The Bahamas. Being a part of it is sort of a rite of passage for artists, and validation for your most relevant, infinitely sized projects. I collaborated for the last NE with Christina Wong, which was awesome, but this is my first year in the NE as a solo artist.

KC: How did you interpret the theme of this National Exhibition?

AWW: It resonated with the idea of the process for me; the idea of becoming and the acknowledgement and appreciation for different stages of becoming. 

Wallace-Whitfield adorns the Popop Art Studios, one of the places contributive of her becoming, with “Hope Is a Weapon” NE9 project.

Wallace-Whitfield adorns the Popop Art Studios, one of the places contributive of her becoming, with “Hope Is a Weapon” NE9 project.

KC: What has the process been like for you thus far?

AWW: I'm working on a public project so it’s been a really fun experience, tagging different places on the island. I participated in the Over-the-Hill Walk with the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) and was able to learn so much more about the areas I sought to tag, as well as dialogue with members of the tour and community about my project.

KC: What are you learning about yourself as an artist as you sink deeper into your practice with this particular project? 

AWW: People are listening to what artists have to say or share. I'm learning the responsibility of an artist and how what we produce or say, the visuals we relay, matter. This may be a personal experience as I am doing a public project, but there's a genuine interest in what and why we are producing what we produce. 

KC: What are you learning about your community/ Bahamian society?

AWW: That everybody is hoping for something.

KC: What are some of the responses you've been receiving as you've been tagging?

AWW: It’s all been really positive. I've had gyms, schools and other gallery spaces contact me to come tag their property. It’s interesting to hear the different interpretations of the phrase. They're usually romantic interpretations of hoping for love or reciprocation, financial hope, health and emotional hope. 

KC: What will attendees see on the day of the opening of the exhibition - photos, videos, anything along those lines?

Wallace-Whitfield adorns the Popop Art Studios, one of the places contributive of her becoming, with “Hope Is a Weapon” NE9 project.

Wallace-Whitfield adorns the Popop Art Studios, one of the places contributive of her becoming, with “Hope Is a Weapon” NE9 project.

AWW: On the day of the show, my tag will be seen around NAGB's property and “HOPE IS A WEAPON” shirts will be on sale in the Mixed Media Museum Store for $25 inclusive of VAT. The shirts will allow me to share this project a little further with the public. Enthusiasts will spread the message visually and carry it with them throughout their day.

The NAGB is grateful to support artists like Wallace-Whitfield with works inspiring and conspiring for change within this National Exhibition. If you are looking to encourage Wallace-Whitfield further in her artistic practice and within this project’s message by purchasing a T-shirt or having a space tagged with can paint, you may connect with her at awallwhit@gmail.com.

 

NE9 Talks and Thoughts: Artists share their thoughts on the NE9

Natalie Willis

By Katrina Cartwright. The opening of the NAGB’s “NE9: The Fruit and The Seed” was so dynamic, well supported and memorable, we invited the participating artists to share their experiences and thoughts on that evening and also on this National Exhibition (NE) in general. Here are the amazing, generous responses we received from several of these incredibly talented individuals! 

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✨Happy Holidays from Your Team NAGB ✨

Holly Bynoe

Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a New Year that is creative and light!

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As we reflect on 2018, it has been our most productive year yet. We have held over 40 public events, opened 15 exhibitions, welcomed over 8000 guests from across New Providence, numerous Family Islands, regionally and internationally. We opened our Sculpture Garden and Fiona’s Theatre and heralded the beginning of key partnerships that have increased the ways that we can serve you, our greatest supporters. For this holiday season, the entire team at the NAGB wishes you a peaceful and restful time with family, friends and loved ones.

Having just opened the stellar NE9 “The Fruit and The Seed—our bi-annual exhibition showcasing the works of 38 Bahamian artists—which is exhibited across the upper galleries—we encourage those of you staying home for Christmas to bring your relatives to the NAGB and enjoy the fruits of our creative labour. 


The ground floor houses the rich Permanent Exhibition “Hard Mouth: From the Tongue of the Ocean”, curated by assistant curators Richardo Barrett and Natalie Willis, with masterpieces by many of our greatest minds. We also welcome to you to see the Junkanoo inspired solo exhibition by Carlos Bain titled “Second to None.”

The NAGB is open to the public on Sunday December 23rd (for last minute Christmas shopping at the Mixed Media Museum Store, which is having a sale of up to 25% off storewide, including on our brand-spanking-new “Hope is a Weapon” NE9 T-shirts ) and will reopen on Thursday, December 27th through Sunday, December 30th.

Holidays are also observed on New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1st  and Majority Rule Day on January 10th, however, our galleries will be open on all other days during our regular operating hours.

As we disperse to join our families, we hope that everyone travels and reaches in safety and that you all can enjoy this time of togetherness in serenity. Wishing you blessings and good cheer for the New Year and hoping to see you in 2019 for another incredible and uplifting year of art, community and culture.

Yours sincerely,

Team Ninja

Blank Canvas: December 19, 2018, NE9 Artists

Katrina Cartwright

On Blank Canvas this week we continue a discussion around the ninth National Exhibition, “NE9: The Fruit & The Seed,” with three artists in the studio. April Bey (far right), Melissa Alcena (second from right) and Tiffany Smith (second from left) have all produced very different work—from Bey’s multimedia hand-stitched canvases, to Alcena’s portrait photographs, to Smiths’ installation—but it is all connected to ideas of identity and belonging.

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NAGB opens National Exhibition 9 (NE9) to wild acclaim

Holly Bynoe

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ (NAGB) National Exhibition 9 (NE9) “The Fruit and The Seed” opened on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 to wild acclaim welcoming over 550 Bahamians and visitors of all ages, creeds and backgrounds.  

Over 550 people were in attendance celebrating the works of 38 contemporary Bahamian artists whose works look through a lens of race, gender, parity or class as a way to clarify cultural and social concerns.

Over 550 people were in attendance celebrating the works of 38 contemporary Bahamian artists whose works look through a lens of race, gender, parity or class as a way to clarify cultural and social concerns.

The exhibition was formally opened by Director of Culture, Rowena Poitier-Sutherland, with a welcome committee from the NAGB including current Board Chair, Lawrence Bascom, Chief Curator, Holly Bynoe and Executive Director, Amanda Coulson, welcoming guests and setting the celebratory tone for the evening.

Director of Culture, Rowena Poitier-Sutherland delivering remarks.

Director of Culture, Rowena Poitier-Sutherland delivering remarks.

Executive Director, Amanda Coulson giving vote of thanks!

Executive Director, Amanda Coulson giving vote of thanks!

The Fruit and the Seed support the work of 38 Bahamian artists, writers, performers, thinkers, makers and doers and caps off a growing and momentous year for the NAGB. The National Exhibition is a biannual event, occurring two years and offers a moment of congregation where the creative community can come together and share, dialogue and celebrate the culmination of an excellent year.  

As we close off our season for 2018, the NAGB would like to extend warm gratitude to everyone who has contributed to our year making it our most daring and successful one yet.

Several artists living and working in the diaspora have come home for the National Exhibition. The NAGB is using this moment to share their practices in a deeper way through radio interviews, artists talks and writing about each project over the next three months.

Several artists living and working in the diaspora have come home for the National Exhibition. The NAGB is using this moment to share their practices in a deeper way through radio interviews, artists talks and writing about each project over the next three months.

NAGB Staff L-R Holly Bynoe, Abby Smith, NAGB outreach officer, Natalie Willis and Assistant Curator Richardo Barrett welcome NE9 attendees

NAGB Staff L-R Holly Bynoe, Abby Smith, NAGB outreach officer, Natalie Willis and Assistant Curator Richardo Barrett welcome NE9 attendees

A.I.R. Studio Paducah Call for Residents Open

Holly Bynoe

Studio Paducah, located in the Unesco city of Paducah, Kentucky, USA is a viable network for visiting artists and they welcome international applications.

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A.I.R. Studio Paducah is an Artist-in-Residence Studio and efficiency apartment located in the Lower Town Arts District of Paducah, Kentucky six blocks from the Ohio River. They are welcoming self-motivated, focused artists working in in a range of creative practices: visual artists, photographers, architects, writers, composers and improvisational choreographers. Applicants are encouraged to have a clear objective for their residency. Stays usually range from two weeks to three months. The deadline for spring, summer and fall of 2019 is February 15, 2019.

They would like you to invite Bahamian artists who can secure sponsorship by your government or a private entity to apply for their 2019 call.

See more information here.






All the Small Things: Jordanna Kelly and the Process of Creation

Natalie Willis

By Letitia M. Pratt

The D’Aguilar Art Foundation

 

Fantasy writer J.K. Rowling, author of the famous, lore intensive Harry Potter series, once shared that she meticulously created the imaginative world of Harry Potter in a sequence of hand-drawn tables holding character and plot information. To accomplish a creative feat with the calibre of those novels – or other epic works like Tolkien is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments – an author like Rowling must plan out her world intensely.  The process of building, planning, and organising this world for the reader to get lost in is the true artistry of novel writing and is a skill that is useful across genres - literary and otherwise – that encourage the viewer to get lost in the process of consumption. Therefore, the artist and fantasy writer, I argue, have a lot in common, especially if the artist aims to create a new world for the viewer to experience. This is true for Jordanna Kelly, whose love for the process is unique among the things she enjoys about creating her work. In fact, Kelly and J.K. Rowling share more things in common that one would expect…Hear me out.

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Danny Davis brings a colonial interpretation to NE9’s “The Fruit and The Seed.”

Natalie Willis

By Kevanté A. C. Cash, NAGB Correspondent. In conversation with the National Exhibition 9 Artist-in-Residence Danny Davis about his work for the upcoming Ninth National Exhibition. The Ninth National Exhibition (NE9), under the patronage of the Hon. Lanisha Rolle, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, is scheduled to open on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) beginning at 6:00 pm. The NAGB will support the work of 38 artists under its theme “The Fruit and The Seed”. One of the artists being Danny Davis, the NE9 artist-in-residence which is supported in partnership with The Current Gallery and Art Studios. Davis is a lecturer at the University of The Bahamas, a chemist turn woodworker, an unorthodox match to say the least. He has lived between Nassau and Freeport for most of his creative career and has been able to draw inspiration for his work from both islands. I sat with him to engage in a rather exciting discourse about his interpretation of NE9’s theme, and how it will be shown through his piece.

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SeaWords Bahamas Literary Festival: Creative Nassau hosts its first ever festival and conference for literary enthusiasts 

Natalie Willis

By Kevanté A. C. Cash, NAGB Correspondent. The inaugural SeaWords Bahamas Literary Festival (SBLF), an initiative of Creative Nassau, became a haven for rhetoricians, wordsmiths and literary enthusiasts to come and explore a world solely created for them. Held in the Atlantis Grand Ballroom, Day two’s festival activities proved a learning experience for its eager participants. Members of the literary community, teachers and students were all in attendance to gather from what the conference had to offer. 

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Denis Knight: An Incredible Journey (1926-2018)

Natalie Willis

 By Katrina Cartwright. Celebrating the life of the grandfather of ceramics in The Bahamas. In a small pottery studio, a little off the beaten path in Petty’s, Long Island, a teacher patiently instructs his student on the appropriate techniques to use to complete the ceramic piece she is working on. They are discussing the student’s pending college application and what she is choosing to study. He suggests “Why don’t you study ceramics? It’s something you seem to enjoy and you have a knack for it.” The student scoffs at the idea--what kind of job could one possibly get with a degree in ceramics? The instructor doesn’t push, only encourages the student to think about it, and they go on to discuss other ideas in the peaceful quiet, broken only by the occasional bird call or rustle of leaves. 

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Big Yard, Big Heart, Big Art: The NAGB Inter-Island Traveling Exhibition in North and Central Andros!

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis. Oh my Andros! Da Big Yard, the wild and wonderful island full of love vine, graceful-yet-sinister buzzards, and full to the brim with people showing spirit as big as they come and then some. This October, the NAGB extended itself into the open arms of this vast island (by our standards anyway!). The Inter-Island Travelling Exhibition (ITE) is a cause near and dear to our hearts here at the NAGB, and for one very simple reason: the “N” in the NAGB stands for National, not Nassau. And with this in mind, the National Collection should follow this same line of thinking. Most recently, the current iteration of the ITE, “TRANS: A Migration of Identity”, made its way to the most gracious and welcoming of hosts in Central Andros at Brigadiers Restaurant in Davis Creek. Workshops, the construction of a mural, exhibition installation, and personal visits to schools all took place over a hectic fortnight, but as always the work we do to bring art to you is the most important. Who needs sleep right?  

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Northwestern University "Decolonizing Conference featuring Bahamian Speakers!

Natalie Willis

Decolonizing Critical Theory: Decolonial Aesthetics and Epistemic Violence

An initiative of Northwestern University's Critical Theory Cluster an the ICCTP (International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

November 30 to December 3, 2018. All events will be held in the John Evans Alumni Center, Northwester University, unless otherwise noted in the event's program. 

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Blank Canvas: November 28, 2018, Max Taylor

Katrina Cartwright

Tonight on the Blank Canvas, host Amanda Coulson, Executive Director at the NAGB, welcomes well known artist Max Taylor to the studio to discuss the upcoming exhibition "Imprint" that will be opening at Doongalik Studios on Friday, November 30th, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Taylor has teamed up with artists Sue Katz and Kendra Frorup for what will make an interesting exhibition as they each bring their own style of printmaking to the mix.

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