Conversation: Wednesday July 25, 2012
Hillside House Coffee Hour, Wednesday July 25th 2012 10:00 am-12:00 pm.
Several artists took part in the first “Conversations with artists” event that served as a focus group session toward the upcoming book project A Sense of Place: Public Art, Political Space and The Sacred based on Sacred Space at Clifton Pier and Bahamian Arts Practice more generally. Artists are invited to host conversations on topics that interest them on a regular basis during Coffee Hour simply by contacting the gallery.
Bahamian artists have been fortunate to meet a ready and willing community that supports artistry. Perhaps it is one that is smaller than desired in the eyes of some, nevertheless, the relative few involved form a dynamic, involved and supportive network that allows the visual arts of the Bahamas to lead the Anglophone Caribbean in artistic practice: the frequency of collaborative practice, mentorship, exhibitions and projects is unsurpassed in this regard.
Hillside House is a new establishment opened in March this year by Antonius Roberts and partners. Relationship minded and conservation focused, Roberts intends his studio-gallery to be a community-oriented space that features innovative and cross-disciplinary programming. To this end a weekly coffee hour with free refreshments is provided from 10:00 am-12:00pm every Wednesday and the space is opened to artists and crafts persons to display their work.
Dialogue is a critical aspect of the approach to community engagement and this particular event took up that mandate in engaging artists in conversation focused on the kinds of themes of their current work, the conversations happening between artists and their audiences, questions and concerns that emerge through artwork, dialogue and community practice. Intersections between various arts communities: between the visual artists, Junkanoo, musicians, fashion and graphic designers, was also of interest. The richness of the interface and willingness of each artist to express his/her point of view left little time to touch on all of these possibilities.
After re-hashing the strengths and development opportunities offered by Former programs such as the FINCO Summer Art program and the National Endowment for the Arts, the subject of Junkanoo became the focus and the artists had much to say about the relationship between their artistic practice and this art form, the final consensus being that it was equal in status to the Fine arts.
Questions of identity stirred a story telling mode. Migrant populations and inter-national marriages produce complex relationships on Bahamian soil but questions of identity go far beyond race, ethnicity and nationality to encompass issues of legitimacy or illegitimacy, education and even ways of understanding oneself as an artist. Bringing these often unspoken personal experiences to the fore began to address issues of ego (to which the artists frequently made reference), shift perceptions and create platforms for further more profound dialogue.
This introduction to the conversation is not meant to take an in-depth and nuanced view of the perspectives presented however. We invite you to join the conversation, as the video will be posted soon. Further, we invite you to think of topics that engage you and start new conversations. You are welcome to do so during Wednesday Coffee Hours at Hillside House.
Written By Marielle Barrow
Photos By Ana-Lisa Wells