The month of April took Bryan and I back down to the islands for a whirlwind trip with the promise of meeting a few key people in the arts of The Bahamas.
We got more than we bargained for.
Our hope was to continue to gain insight into a community that we truly desire to be a part of but are sensitive to the fact that being non-Bahamians, we will always be somewhat on the "outside".
Boy was I wrong. These are the most welcoming people on the planet.
After hearing about the Transforming Spaces show, a collection of seven galleries showing the best of Bahamian (and Caribbean) art, Bryan and I hopped on a plane two days later. Getting off the plane and checking into a hotel, we barely made it to the artists' talk and presentation at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Slipping into the back of the darkened room we began to understand why it was so important that we be there. Not only was the work of most of these artists being shown, but most of them were in the room.
The panel consisted of three contemporary Bahamian artists as well as the Director of the NAGB, Amanda Coulson, who was one of the people we hoped to meet. The other individual who presented was artist, John Cox, the newly appointed Creative Director to Baha Mar.
After the lectures Bryan and I managed our way through the crowd and introduced ourselves to both, with a promise of a future meeting later in the week. Both of these generous people took time out of their crazy busy schedules to meet with us and discuss how the Exnihilo Art Center fit into the whole of the Bahamian landscape with the most exciting promise of integrating our programs once the buildings are up.
The rest of the week followed with meeting more people, including the wonderful and gracious Pam Burnside, widow of Jackson Burnside. Each day followed in rapid succession as we interviewed and filmed 15 different artists, educators, film makers, and curators about their work, and how Exnihilo could play a part. Although I thought we might get a "day at the beach", it never happened. You know when one of the wait staff at your hotel says, "wow you people work really hard", that you have made great use of every minute. Even if I didn't get to put a toe in the water!
What does this all mean for Exnihilo? We continue to develop the mission while forging new friendships to help carve out a place where Exnihilo Art Center will make a difference. It is our hope that we can truly be part of the island family.
Pic at bottom: L-R Blair Anderson, Amanda Coulson, Director of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, John Cox, Creative Director for Baha Mar. Blair on a sculpture at Transforming Spaces.