From: Bahamas Information Services
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Mario Bowleg, said, during the official opening of the “Double Dutch 8” and “Evolution of the Arc” exhibitions at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, on November 2, 2021, that those two “exciting” exhibitions not only showcased the work of talented Bahamian artists, but they also spoke to issues that were important to nation-building, in a way that only art can.
“Double Dutch 8 asks us to look at aspects of our past through a new lens so that we may better understand who we are as a people,” Minister Bowleg said. “Evolution of the Arc examines the vulnerabilities and weaknesses first exposed following Hurricane Dorian and then exacerbated by the global pandemic, and how we move forward as a nation.”
Also present were Permanent Secretary Eugene Poitier, Director of Culture Dereka Deleveaux-Grant, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and Interim Executive Director Lawrence Bascom, Members of the National Art Gallery’s Board of Directors, curators, Ministry officials, participating artists, and other stakeholders. Minister Bowleg noted that the two exhibitions posed “bold questions”. “Bold questions that cause us to reflect and rethink our assumptions about who we are, how we can improve our communities and how to move our nation forward,” he added.
He pointed out that the artistic and creative community had an important role to play in inspiring the collective imagination and agitating for new ways of coming up with the required responses to those bold questions. “Artists and creatives must be on the front lines of re-imagining how we tackle important issues, such as the existential and grave threat of the global climateemergency, the need for economic diversification, how we feed ourselves and how we define ourselves as a people,” said.
Minister Bowleg noted that both “Double Dutch 8” and “Evolution of the Arc” featured the work of artists based in other parts of the country and the region. The “Double Dutch” series brings together a Bahamian artist and an artist from the Caribbean region or diaspora, he noted, providing an important space to explore regional and diasporic culture through the visual arts.
“I am told that this is the eighth installment of the series, which has featured artists representing countries throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Dominica and Jamaica,” Minister Bowleg said. “Bringing local and regional artists together is crucial to the continued development of art in The Bahamas and throughout the region.” Minister Bowleg pointed out that “Evolution of the Arc” features work by a number of artists from the Family Islands and one artist from the Caribbean region.
“I am told that of the 10 artists featured in that exhibition, six reside in the Family Islands, including Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Abaco and Andros,” he said. “It is encouraging to see such strong representation from our Family Islanders.”
“These exhibitions provide crucial platforms for conversation and exchange among the wider artistic community,” he added. “This exchange, this process of taking and giving, borrowing and creating, is how we inspire and learn from each other.”
Minister Bowleg said that, although the National Art Gallery is located in New Providence, he was pleased to see that the institution continued to deliberately engage audiences beyond the capital. “It is critical to ensure that every Bahamian has access to the arts and to
cultural opportunity – not just those who are within driving or walking distance of an art gallery, a performing arts center or a Junkanoo shack,” he said. “This is important because the arts are not just a quaint pastime or something to do in your spare time.”
“Art defines who we are as a people and provides an account for the next generation,” he added. “It’s how we tell our stories of the past and express our hopes for the future.
“I congratulate the Board of Directors and staff at the NAGB for creating an inclusive space and opportunities that provide greater access to the visual arts for all Bahamians and residents, especially our young people.” Minister Bowleg noted that, at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture they were keenly focused on the progression of young Bahamians who remain at the heart of national development.
“Our primary focus is on creating opportunities and equipping young Bahamians with the necessary tools needed to adapt and subsist in an ever-changing world,” he said. “This includes engaging with the cultural and arts community through the promotion of the country’s art, culture and heritage.”
“As the new Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, I look forward to working closely with the NAGB and the wider artistic and creative community,” Minister Bowleg added. “I thank all of the artists and creatives for their passion and contributions to these exhibitions, and I encourage as many Bahamians and residents to see. “I thank the NAGB Board, leadership and staff for all that you do year-round. I thank all of you here.”
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