Following their successful inaugural exhibition in 2011, the Public Treasury Art Program is preparing an equally stunning group display in the Pubic Treasury Building for 2012, opening May 18 – one that takes a departure from the 2011 all-women “Bahama Mama” tribute to female Bahamian artists and gives Bahamian male artists a platform in “Nurturing Brotherhood,” Sonia Farmer reports in Nassau’s Guardian.
This exhibition, however, will not only be a chance for male artists to shine but also puts the importance of positive male relationships in the spotlight. Every one of the 16 male Bahamian artists invited to contribute to the group exhibition paired with a high school student in order to produce work together. Curator of the PTAP, Keisha Oliver, points out that unlike last year’s exhibition, more emphasis is placed on the process of meaningful exchange for a better future of artists and self-aware young men than the end exhibition itself.
“We often hear the expression ‘Where are the good young men of today, what’s happening to them?’” says Oliver. “Nurturing Brotherhood is a positive response and affirmation that talented men are here in The Bahamas and they’re just waiting to be encouraged and grow.”
“Nurturing Brotherhood for me is relevant is in a time of escalated violence and crime that always seem to come back to young men, so it’s a positive response to those negative claims and gestures.” With help from the Ministry of Education, PTAP selected sixteen male high school students—and one student from junior high—who displayed promise in arts through school and in nation-wide competitions, including three such students from Freeport and one from Abaco. “They were so excited as young students to be selected to work alongside artists they know and hold in high regard,” says Oliver. “Likewise the mentors were over the moon because I think we take for granted in our successful professions the sharing of skills and care that can impact other lives, so to see that growth just makes you so proud.”
Over a period of weeks, the pair worked closely together to provide one piece from the mentor and one piece from the student for display in the Nurturing Brotherhood exhibition. The opportunity provided the students with hands-on guidance in their creative expression and the chance to see male Bahamian artists making a living through their talents in different ways.
With participating artists including Allan Wallace, Andret John, Anthony Morley, Damaso Gray, Desmond Darville, Dion Lewis, Ellery Deveaux, Jace McKinney, Kenon Grant, Kishan Munroe, Lou Lihou, Omar Richardson, Scharad Lightbourne, Sheldon Saint, Shieko Hoyte, Theodore Sealy and Zyandric Jones, there was quite a range of inspiration for the budding artists. “We wanted to provide a realistic scope to students to help them understand that artist professions range —from the tourism sector, to someone who places art in public spaces, to some who travel the world,” says Oliver. “Showing these young men that have artistic talents that working in a creative space is important, it gives them options,” she continues. “We have to encourage these young people that this is an option or else art and culture will die. It’s about showing them we appreciate them and we want them to become the men that these artists are.”
Indeed, the pieces in “Nurturing Brotherhood” promise to be a poignant display of inspiring mentorship, providing direct reflections of the mentor’s individualized style and subject matter in the impressive pieces by the up-and-coming generation of emerging Bahamian artists. But most importantly is the guidance and inspiration provided by these mentors outside of art itself. In a time where Bahamian society is losing its young men to violence and crime and the graduating classes of the College of The Bahamas reflect an alarming low for male graduates, cultural programs—like the National Bench Program by Antonius Roberts, Junkanoo shack activities and now PTAP’s activity—work to change the dynamic. Such programs not only provide positive outlets for and creative opportunities for young men, but also the chance to work with positive male role models they can emulate.
“The mentorship to me seemed more important than the exhibition,” says Oliver. “The intention is to equip students with tools and skills but ultimately an appreciation for relationship-building, collaboration and creative independence. It’s a life-learning experience, for them to be selected for this.”
Indeed, for the students involved, the opportunity is a game changer, and Oliver points out that the relationships formed these past few weeks will continue long after the Nurturing Brotherhood exhibition has opened, making this a monumental event in shaping the minds and creative talents of the next generation.
“I think if the artists don’t have hectic schedules and the students are willing, the option to keep working together has been opened up,” says Oliver. “There’s also us doing it again in the future. We definitely want to continue the program, it’s something that can progress from here on in and can be something good.”
“Nurturing Brotherhood” opens at the Public Treasury Building on East Street North this Friday, May 18 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. and will remain on display for five months. For more information, visit www.ptapbahamas.blogspot.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: “Turquoise Waters” by Sheldon Saint.