“TRANS: A Migration of Identity”: The National Collection Travels to Eleuthera.

By Malika Pryor-Martin.

“TRANS: A Migration of Identity”, curated by The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ Community Outreach Officer Abby Smith and Assistant Curator Richardo Barrett, is the NAGB’s second inter-island travelling exhibition and will premiere in Eleuthera next week. The first, MAX/AMOS focused on the works, as compliment and contrast, of masters Maxwell Taylor and Amos Ferguson. It played with ideas of identity and memory, how one sees themselves and sees their country; all through the eyes of these two men.

The latest iteration of the NAGB’s inter-Island Exhibition programme features 17 artists representing three generations of Bahamian visual arts creation. With such diverse and divergent works, ”TRANS: A Migration of Identity”, presents a depth of Bahamian cultural experience and expression that is unique and quite special – mainly as a show moving exclusively through Family Islands.

Team NAGB preparing to and installing “TRANS: A Migration of Identity” at The South Eleuthera Mission, Rock Sound Eleuthera.

NAGB Assistant Curator Natalie Willis half-laments/half-jokes that the institution houses the National Collection, not the ‘Nassau Collection,’ which means that for this body of works that belongs to the people of The Bahamas to truly embody its title, it must travel. It must venture out and beyond the safety and comfort of the Villa Doyle, home to the NAGB, and be seen throughout our archipelago. That is challenging and costly, and it is also our mandate.

Art, not unlike its performing arts cousins, has the uncanny ability to bring forth and out of us what we struggle to express. It empowers individuals to engage in serious and quite intimate conversations regarding individual notions and common ideas of belonging without ever using the personal, ‘I’. In “TRANS: Migration,” sprawling dialogues – like fields – cover broad topics around the subject of identity. Otherness, movement of people and ideals, displacement, slavery, colonialism, immigration – massive concepts to wrap our collective minds around – are features of the new exhibition.

Whereas most art exhibitions focus on themes, “TRANS: Migration” is a rich narrative telling multiple Bahamian stories through time and place, some shared, some singular. Using works from artists, including: Allan Wallace, John Beadle, Tyrone Ferguson, Brent Malone, Antonius Roberts, Jessica Colebrooke, among other noted and notable makers, NAGB team members Richardo Barrett and Abby Smith, weave the trauma and resilience of the Afro-Bahamian experience with complex questions of regional and international migration, layering in, the difficult transition of the country from colony to sovereign nation.

Team NAGB preparing to and installing “TRANS: A Migration of Identity” at The South Eleuthera Mission, Rock Sound Eleuthera.

In partnership with the One Eleuthera Foundation, “TRANS: A Migration of Identity” will open on Monday, March 5th, 2018 in Rock Sound, Eleuthera at The South Eleuthera Mission. The opening, which begins at 6 PM, is open to the public, resident and visitor alike. On March 6th, the exhibition’s curators will host a Curators’ Talk at the Mission. On the 7th, team NAGB will host the first-ever Family Island Community Workshop at the Eleuthera Arts & Cultural Center in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera. This event is also open to the public, and every event is FREE.

The NAGB thanks our partners, without whom, the travel of your National Collection to Eleuthera would be infinitely more difficult: One Eleuthera Foundation; The South Eleuthera Mission; and the Eleuthera Arts & Cultural Center. “TRANS: Migration of Identity” runs through April 13th, 2018 at the South Eleuthera Mission.

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