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A sense of place

It’ll be difficult to forget your destination at the new Lynden Pindling International Airport. In an airport experience that brings the art gallery to passengers, Stage 1 of the LPIA offers a national anthem of visual arts in larger-than-life sculptures and extensive art panels.

In the new facility passengers are greeted by Sue Katz Lightbourn’s vivid scenes of Bahamian life and Nicole Sweeting’s 9ft. bronze Junkanoo sculptures; John Beadle’s outdoor Rake N Scrape stone musicians and John Cox’s colony of coconut trees. At stops along the journey the three dimensional art of the rotating exhibition curated by the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas offers a glimpse of the works of even more local artists.

The pieces shine in an airport designed to underscore a sense of place for all who pass through its doors.

“We’re very impressed with what’s been put together for Stage 1, which makes us even more excited to see what will come for Stages 2 and 3,”said Nassau Airport Development(NAD)company president, Stewart Steeves.

The NAD president said that the company was also impressed with the NAGB’s rotating exhibit. The series of glass boxes that house the exhibition currently feature the work of ceramicists Jessica Colebroke and Imogene Walkine; woodturners David McGorrin and Robin Hardy; and stain glass artist Rome Heyer.

“So there’s a lot of Bahamian art that’s in the building and we’re really excited to have that contribute to the overall sense of Bahamian place in the facility,”said Steeves.

Shonalee King Johnson, communications manager at NAD, said that the company wants the art pieces to become iconic.

“That’s the hope that when you’re here you know that you’re in The Bahamas,”she said.

Artist Nicole Smith said that she was excited to have been chosen to participate in the project.

“I was excited to have been chosen and to have the opportunity to bring fruition to my ideas, and to present the things in Bahamian culture that mean a lot to me,”she said.

NAD unveiled the art during its official opening of the 247,000 sq. ft. U.S. departure terminal on Friday, February 25. Bahamians were invited to tour the terminal the following day during a public open house.

Said Vernice Walkine, vice president of marketing and communications at NAD,”We’ve built an airport that truly reflects the people of The Bahamas.”

Art will play a major role in all of LPIA’s subsequent stages. Stage 2 the international arrivals terminal will feature large scale works artists such as Max Taylor, Dede Brown and Jolyon Smith, who received a double commission.

The company expects to complete all stages of the new airport by 2013.

“Art is an emerging element in some airports around the world and I think our company has been one that’s taken a leadership role in that,”said Steeves, the company president.

“Art in an airport is different than art in a gallery because some people are rushing past not everybody’s there to see the art so you want it to be something that’s impactful and that strikes people, even if they don’t have a lot of time. And we really think the art here will jump out and do just.”

NAD formed an art committee around late 2008, early 2009 to select the art that would adorn the new airport. It issued a Call for Works shortly after, and held public meetings at various locations to inform artists of the requirements for submissions. Dr. Erica James, director of the NAGB, was one of a cross-section of people to sit on the art committee.

The group reviewed submissions in early 2010. The deliberation time was spent”really going through what had been submitted very carefully and having pretty rich discussions between the committee members as to what the space required,”said James.

“I think that it was a wonderful opportunity, and what happened is some of the artists that really excelled or really caught our eye were artists that aren’t the household names yet, so that was really good as well. We realized that we got a really full range of submissions from a broad range of applicants, and I thought that was really exciting,”she said.

The NAGB conducted a search of its own for artists of the first round of the rotating exhibition, which will typically change every six months. James said that the gallery will issue a general call for future rotations.

“What we are really looking for are small three dimensional sculptural objects, those are the primary types of work,”she said.”We could use some two dimensional works in some of the cases[but]what’s most dynamic are the ones that you can look at from all sides.”

The NAGB director applauded the major presence of Bahamian art work in the new LPIA, and anticipated a positive response from the public.

“I think it’ll be a great boost to our sense of self, and I think, in the knowledge that we produce wonderful things here. We are(a)creative people. We have a rich legacy,”she said.

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