Flipping the script
You would expect nothing less than a perfect grade in art from a person who had the vision to transform old, worn, beaten and weathered flip-flops into beautiful art. And three years after finding her first flip-flop on the beach and thinking how she could use it to make something greater and coming up with the idea to paint it, Naima Nixon’s still going strong with her Exuma Flip-Flop art, and she scored an A grade on her Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exam which she sat in eighth grade.
Today, Nixon, 13, feels that her flip-flop art has also served as an inspiration to other people, who she said literally bring her bags of flip-flops as she adheres to her mission to reduce, reuse, recycle, restore and replenish; and she continues to go flip-flop hunting as well.
One day, she was walking on the beach and saw a bunch of flip-flops lying around and, she said, “I thought to myself, how I could use the simple things to make something greater. I went home and was just thinking, and I said I could paint them. I went back to the beach, got them and painted some and showed it to my mommy, who said ‘Naima, it look so nice’, so I went and I got more and then that’s how it started, to be honest.”
Nixon, who started her flip-flop art at age 10, recalled feeling good while she painted it.
“It just felt like I was doing something good,” she said.
The teenager who will enter 10th grade at St. Andrew’s Anglican School in George Town, Exuma in the fall, said the visions she would like to see the flip-flops transformed into just come to her, and she paints them onto the flip-flops, which are then included into a design she paints on canvas. It’s like 3D art.
Her flip-flop art was started as a school project when she attended Moss Town Primary School. Her teacher and principal Vanessa Penn saw her talent and allowed her to display her art during the National Family Island Regatta in 2016.
While Naima is well-known for her flip-flop art locally – and the art can be had in Exuma at Janet’s Stand at the Exuma International Airport, Sand Piper Boutique in Georgetown and Lumina Point Resort & Spa at Stocking Island – she has dreams of world domination and everyone knowing her name and her art.
“One time I went to somebody’s house, and they were like, ‘Are you Naima Nixon? Do you do the flip-flop art?’ And I was like yes, I do, and then they took me into a room and there was my painting. I felt happy because somebody supported me and they saw the goodness of what I was doing. It made me feel happy inside that somebody actually cared enough.”
She knows that she’s sold a lot of her work – she’s not certain how many, but wants to continue for as long as she can.
For now, she’s also a school student who is also excelling in the classroom. She maintains an honor roll grade point average (GPA).
Nixon sat nine BJC examinations this year – math, English, literature, Spanish, home economics, health science, general science, social studies and religion, and is hoping to duplicate excellent grades in those subjects as well to go with her perfect art grade.
The teenager also has an empowering program called the Exuma No Bullying Zone, which she started after she was the cyberbullied; as a result, Nixon, is against bullying in all forms and helps wherever she can. She does her best to spread basic information about bullying and talks about how art and music helped her to overcome bullying. She has been a part of the E. Clement National Arts Competition where she got Honor Awards for her participation.
Her mom, Dunnia Vega, is proud of her daughter’s accomplishments both artistically and academically.
“She is really doing a good deed and she loves painting. She has that natural skill of painting. I couldn’t do what she does,” said Vega. “She loves nature and is into the ocean. She loves to swim and is now into rowing, so I’m happy that she found this by just walking on the beach.”
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.