Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Marking growth

In a show of its support for young Bahamian artists, The D’Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF) will welcome upcoming exhibition Flourish on Thursday, August 27. Featuring the works of developing artists Ivanna Gaitor, Alistair Stevenson and Angelika Wallace-Whitfield, Flourish will offer the artists an opportunity to show their skills development since the beginnings of their respective university careers.

A show with decidedly international flair, Flourish will be an amalgamation of media and artistic style; the exhibition will feature the most recent works of the artists, who are, during the academic year, spread across the globe in China, the U.K. and U.S.

The suggestion of a group show was posed by DAF Curator Tessa Whitehead and Director Saskia Schutte-D’Aguilar, who hoped to offer the students an opportunity to sustain themselves through their artistry. Flourish – a name conjured up by Gaitor – will serve as a fundraiser for the students’ academic and living expenses while abroad.

Both Stevenson and Wallace-Whitfield have roots at the DAF, where they worked prior to pursuing studies abroad. Gaitor hails from Abaco and was a 2014 recipient of the PopopStudios Junior Residency prize.

“We applaud the efforts that Alistair, Angelika and Ivanna have made to further their education in the arts and are well aware of the tremendous amount of work and money required to attend tertiary institutions abroad. One of the ways that we felt we could support them as they embark on another year of their studies, is by hosting Flourish, where they can sell their varied and inspired works,” said Schutte-D’Aguilar.

Ivanna Gaitor

“‘Flourish’ seemed best fitting to describe the state of growth that we are each undergoing, in not only our personal lives, but also our artistic practices as we study our respective disciplines abroad,” explained the artist who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in advertising at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Going into her sophomore year at SCAD, the show gives Gaitor an opportunity to stay active on the Bahamian art scene.

“I believe that it’s important to stay connected as I develop and as the local art community develops,” she said.

Gaitor’s abstract pieces will be easily identified in the exhibition. A collection of geometric shapes – largely triangles – and linear drawings, the artist’s work will show an evolution from her earlier study on perfection.

“If lines represented our lives, we would always desire for them to be crisp, clean – and always progressing toward something. In my body of work I’ve combined these two elements to create their own conversation,” explained the student.

At Flourish, Gaitor hopes visitors will be encouraged to interpret her work subjectively, creating their own meaning from the conceptual pieces.

I’m always humbled and grateful when I’m given the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas through my work, and me exhibiting at the DAF is a platform to do just that,” she said.

Alistair Stevenson

Making up another part of the trio is ceramicist Alistair Stevenson, who is home on summer break from Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute in Jingdezhen, China. Having recently completed a four-week stint as the first artist in residence of Exnihilo Art Center, Stevenson looks forward to showing off his newest creations in Flourish.

As part of his resident artist package, Stevenson was offered a budget of $1,000 to be used toward the acquisition of artist materials. Because the program was hosted at the College of The Bahamas, Stevenson had access to the college’s entire ceramics department and necessary facilities like potter’s wheels, a kiln and slab rollers. All this provided the artist with the means to create a strong body of works he can be proud to present at the DAF.

In Flourish, Stevenson hopes supporters of his work will be able to note the stylistic and conceptual evolutions his art has undergone since his studies began.

“I want to express to the viewers what skills and concepts I have attained while studying in China combined with expressions of Bahamian culture,” he explained.

Carrying on with themes of mythology – at his last solo show at the DAF, the Lusca of the blue holes in Andros was heavily represented – Stevenson has this time incorporated fantastical Chinese creatures.

He foretold: “Guests should expect a combination of both Bahamian and Chinese mythology via manifestations of the blue-hole lurking Lusca chasing and nearly enveloping the pearl often chased by the Chinese dragon.”

According to the artist, that pearl is representative of strength and courage, and capturing it symbolizes achieving those qualities. He hopes that the exhibition’s visitors “understand the value and reward of chasing after one’s dreams and doing so through diligence and hard work”.

Angelika Wallace-Whitfield

Former DAF Curator Wallace-Whitfield sees the show as an opportunity to demonstrate her gratitude toward those who supported her in her last solo show at the DAF, also a fundraiser for her first year of studies at the University of Kent.

“Returning after my first year abroad and reflecting on my year, left me feeling nothing but gratitude toward all of the generous donors and patrons who have allowed me to be one step closer to achieving my goals,” she said. “I hope to convey that through my work.”

Wallace Whitfield’s recent work has been influenced heavily by the local Poinciana trees, which blossomed this past July. In her pieces, visitors will find comparisons between the trees and donors and scholarship supporters who provide support for many Bahamian students to pursue their academic dreams abroad.

She explained: “The Poinciana trees’ explosive color doesn’t leave room to be ignored. I began drawing a comparison between the nature and role of the Poinciana trees on our island and the generous donors that allow for us to attend university abroad. Within the contents of the show, I attempt to reveal the similarities of the two, who give annually and willingly, without delay or expectation.”

Much of her work in the show is purposefully left unfinished. She hopes that, in doing so, visitors will come to appreciate the process involved in the creation of her work. She expects that leaving such ‘stories’ open will allow the imaginations of the audience to become engaged in filling in blank spaces.

With the proceeds of her show backing her, Wallace‐Whitfield will return to Kent in the fall to continue her undergraduate studies in the philosophy of art and culture.

“Angelika, Ivanna and Alistair are all tremendously gifted artists, and their creations are sure to delight and surprise both established and novice collectors,” said Schutte‐D’Aguilar, who welcomed the public to support the up‐and‐coming artists by viewing Flourish at the DAF on August 27.

The D’Aguilar Art Foundation is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., or by appointment. To find out more about the foundation or Flourish, call 322‐2323.

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