Art Tour Covers Every Fibrous Angle

By NOELLE NICOLLS, Tribune Features Editor ALESHA CADET, Tribune Features Reporter Just one word was used this year to describe the theme of Transforming Spaces, the annual whirlwind New Providence art tour, staged on the weekend. It is a tiny word that conveys everything from human nature to human anatomy, from plant life to inanimate objects. The theme 'Fibre', called the 30 Bahamian artists, who participated in the exhibition, to put aside their traditional scope of materials and engage their creative processes "within and without the limitations of fibrous materials", said John Cox, chief curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), one of eight participating galleries. The artists were united only in their diverse approach to the theme: Muscle fibre, moral fibre, plant fibre and hair fiber, were just some of the fibrous approaches used by the artists to reimagine indigenous fibre. "I am actually an art major at COB, and besides coming here for a class assignment, I really was eager to see the things these artist would come up with. So far, I have seen sculptures of all sizes and any and everything made out of straw. I must say, this is an experience," said College of the Bahamas student Kathleen. Staging an anthropological experiment of sorts, Grand Bahama artist Susan Moir Mackay opted to depict the diversity of the Grand Bahama community by sampling snippets of human hair from random natives. She displayed the hair samples with demographic details, such as age and ethnicity, in addition to crafting a fibrous bowl, theoretically fit for eating, made entirely of the human hair. The design contained 57 samples of hair, including three synthetic samples to represent the ubiquitous presence of hair weave. Scores of people gathered for the sold out bus tour, which celebrated its eighth anniversary this year. Mr Cox said the mission of Transforming Spaces has been to promote local artists, reflect current trends in Bahamian art, and expose and educate patrons to the inner workings of the Bahamian art industry, while challenging both artists and audiences to create and perceive art in new and innovative ways. He said: "The goal of Fibre is to challenge participants to look at the history of local materials (such as banana, palm trees, sisal and coconut palm) and to re-imagine their original purposes, characteristics and contexts." One of the participants on the tour said she was not really an art enthusiast, but she used the crash course opportunity to learn about the Bahamian art scheme. Art lover Michelle, said: "Transforming Spaces is one of the best art tours I have ever been on. It is good to see how vibrant the art industry is in the Bahamas. I came out to enjoy myself and that is exactly what I am doing. I didn't know we had so much talent here and I must say that I am really impressed right now." The participating galleries included: The Hub, The Pink' Un Cottage, The Pro Gallery, Antonius Roberts Studio and Gallery at Hillside House, Doongalik, Popopstudios, New Providence Art and Antiques and NAGB. Amanda Coulson, recently appointed NAGB director said: "My task as director is to bring more people into the National Art Gallery and expose the public to their rich heritage in the arts." Transforming Spaces has always been an excellent way of achieving this, not only locally but internationally as well, she said. "We are proud that visitors are now traveling to the country to participate in the tour." Bahamian straw vendors were also invited to capitalise on the action. Stationed on the NAGB's deck, the three vendors displayed their straw work, while performing live demonstrations, all the while benefiting from the heavy traffic of art lovers. Straw vendor, Carolyn Wright told Tribune Entertainment, she felt very proud and honored to be invited to display her work at Transforming Spaces 2012. "My work is displayed at the straw market but I was invited here and it feels so great, it gives me an opportunity. This was my first time and I hope I am asked to come again next time. The response from people is good. People want to shop after the tour. They want us to be here when they get back," said Ms Wright. The Transforming Spaces exhibitions are still currently on display at the participating galleries for public viewing.


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