Sandals Emerald Bay recently hosted Exuma’s first ever art show and competition, providing a platform for promising young artists to showcase their talent.
The 35 artists, ranging from primary to senior high school students, displayed 51 pieces of extravagant and colourful art that captivated the viewers. As the resort’s ballroom was transformed into the youngsters’ ‘private’ gallery, those in attendance were captivated; not only by the talent on display but also the evident pride and passion exhibited by the artists.
The inaugural event was the brainchild of well-known local artist and teacher, Eddie Nixon who pitched the idea to the Sandals Emerald Bay team for a partnership.
With October being observed as National Youth Month across The Bahamas, the event was timely and resort General Manager, Jeremy Mutton was pleased to partner in bringing this level of exposure to the youth of Exuma and the Exuma Cays. He stated, “It was a pleasure
to host this first Annual Art Show and Competition for the students of Exuma. This event sends a powerful message to our youths that their artistic interests are of value and there is a place for them in the Bahamian society and the world. The students can feel confident that they are being seen, heard, and understood through platforms such as these which allow them to present themselves in a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment”.
For Nixon, he was elated with the outcome, noting that it was a success. “We had a very successful first staging that was only possible because of the efforts from the parties involved. While we believe there are areas for improvement, the art show and competition
included talented art pieces from students and everything was executed for the betterment of Exuma.”
The participants, their audiences and judges inside the ‘transformed art gallery’ were also treated to a musical performance by local saxophonist Pablo Smith a student of the L. N. Coakley High School, who added another element to the range of talent available on the
island of Exuma and the Cays.
At the end, all students received certificates of participation and the top three artists across nine categories were further awarded with gift certificates and medals. Chelsea McLaughlin, grade five student at St. Andrews Anglican School and first place winner in the Primary School Category was elated and shared “I didn’t know I would win but my mommy encouraged me. I love animals and my favorite was a cute drawing of a swimming pig. I feel very proud of myself. I will be back next year.”
Grade 12 student also at L.N. Coakley and overall Senior School Category winner, Dazz McPhee shared that art is his favorite thing to do at school and he submitted several pieces, “I was very happy to participate at Sandals and having my friends and parents with me and I actually won.”
Meanwhile Valentino Newton, grade seven student at St Andrews School lauded the display at the art show. “My pieces were inspired by Jean-Michael Basquiat, world renowned artist. I want to thank Mr Nixon for encouraging me to complete my submission. For the students of Exuma with a love of art, I just want to say that you can be a successful artist or an architect, we are not limited to any career field,” Newton shared.
In attendance to view the displays and lend her support for the budding artists, was Pamela L. Gorte, district superintendent at the Department of Education Exuma & Cays District.
She shared her delight in witnessing the event, “I feel this is an amazing opportunity for the students to showcase themselves and their talents. They have finally been given an avenue to express themselves and this event was beautiful and something that needs to continue year after year.”
Similarly, Cristian Palacious, island administrator shared, “October is officially Youth Month and the organizers of this event deserve to be praised. Not only did they provide an outlet for youth in Exuma to create, but an outlet for a friendly competitors to come together and
share and appreciate each other’s talents. I look forward to partnering on events that provide platforms such as this as a standard for the island’s Youth Month celebrations. We are always grateful to Sandals Resorts for their participation, support, and donations, not just to the youths but to any event which assists the Exuma community. We look forward to the Second Annual Sandals Art Show and Competition next year”.
Visiting artist and judge, Steven Cole was delighted with the outcome. “As one of the judges at the First Annual Sandals Art Show, I found the competition extremely interesting, but moreover motivational. I am an artist and to see such young creative talent here on the island truly encourages me to continue to create more of my own art pieces,” said Cole.
Another judge, Sann Sann Lam, artist at the Exuma Arts Network shared, “I am a local artist and art educator and when I was asked to participate as a judge in this year’s art competition I was honoured. It is really important that students feel supported in the area
of art and learning how to express themselves. Art develops confidence which is a great platform for great leaders. This event was so exciting, the students were so bold, they showed up which was a big reward. I applaud all the students and support this community
Looking ahead, Nixon was quick to make an added appeal. “Hopefully, the community gets involved by providing sponsors and more donations. Speaking as educators/artists, we are operating on limited resources and receiving donations would greatly assist the schools on the island. The first annual art show and competition demonstrates our best efforts to pool our resources to create a better Exuma for future generations”.
More photo highlights below: