By NOELLE NICOLLS
Tribune Features Editor
THREE days after the country celebrates its 40th anniversary, a group of outstanding Bahamians will receive grand honours at the first Bahamian Icon Awards. The artists, educators, journalists, humanitarians and entrepreneurs who form the first cohort of recipients will walk home holding the bronze creation of artist Kishan Munroe. He designed the signature trophy for the new honour.
The instructions he received from Addis Huyler, founder and executive producer of the awards, were clear: design an abstract statue that depicts the strength and character of a Bahamian icon with a gender-neutral form. The design should be suitable for a bronze cast.
“I chose the conch shell because I think it is indicative of the Bahamas. We are one of the few places you can identify where you have an abundance of conch. When you look at the conch shell it is fortified, it is a beautiful colour and it is something you see every day in Bahamian life. We take the conch and we use it as a delicacy. Even when you hear them talk about eating conch, we say it puts strength in your back,” said Kishan.
“We already see it as a metaphor for strength. If you see someone break out into a fight and they have a conch shell near by they will grip the conch shell and use it like a brass knuckle. But at the same time it is soft, it is pretty and it is pink,” he said.
When he conceptualised the design, the conch shell’s relationship to history, culture and spirituality was also top of mind for the socially conscious artist. The Amerindian use of the conch shell as a horn specifically.
The indigenous use of the conch horn is packed with symbolism. “(The conch horn) amplifies that creative spirit inside of you so that the world outside can hear what it is that you had inside,” said Kishan, who paid careful attention to detail.
He worked deliberately to achieve the dynamic nature of the figure’s pose, capturing the specific moment in time experienced right before a person takes flight.
“I wanted to capture that and use the chest high to suggest movement in an upward direction,” said Kishan.
The figure is leaning forward with an arched back. The weight is not distributed, suggesting momentum. “It is like a step forward, either you are going forward or up,” he said.
The overall objective of the awards show is to provide a high level of recognition for the exemplary achievements of Bahamians who have excelled and contributed to the overall growth and development of the Bahamas, according to the founder. The design by Kishan Munroe is a fitting tribute for that objective.
The Bahamian Icon Awards show will be held on July 13, 2013 at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort. There are 12 main award categories that include Fine Arts, Entertainment, Education, Journalism, Sports, Tourism, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Humanitarianism and Commerce.
There will also be a Lifetime Achievement Award for the individual who has made “trans-generational contributions to nation building” and a Rising Star Award to be given to an outstanding student who has excelled in academics, leadership and community involvement.
The public is invited to log on to the website at www.bahamianiconawards.com and fill out a questionnaire about the person they feel is deserving of recognition. The deadline for submissions is May 17, 2013. The recommendation must be based on a specific achievement or contribution made between January 1, 2011 and February 20, 2013.