Some may say the true test of an individual is getting them to step outside comfort zones, to be able to see life and its beautiful nuances from a perspective not of their own. However, if that individual happens to label themselves as an “artist”, the expectation and pressure to conceptualize and create works unfamiliar to them increases. The Current: Baha Mar Gallery & Art Center sought to do just that in setting the bar a little higher, a little bigger…or perhaps one can say smaller, than ever before.
“Small Works”, a collective exhibition put on by the curatorial team of the creative space located at Baha Mar, challenged participating artists to make work on size restrictions of only 12 x 12 inches, hoping to prove to creators and viewers that size matters after all, as no piece is “too small” to be admired.
Natascha Vazquez, programme manager and curator of the exhibition, said, “We were interested in a few things with this open call. One being, to challenge artists to work small – their limit was 12 inches by 12 inches in all directions. We were curious as to how that might change the way an artist thinks about his or her practice, and the way in which that shifts their creative process.
“We were also interested in accessibility. Smaller works are typically in a lower price range – this gave a wider demographic of individuals the chance to purchase artwork and start their collections. The last thing we were thinking about was the transport of artwork. As we are located in a mega-resort, we cater to many visitors to The Bahamas. We wanted to create the opportunity for visitors to purchase an original piece of Bahamian artwork and travel home with it.”
Though the open call for the exposition had no specific theme to follow, the only guidelines were that artists met the size limit.
The curatorial process for Vazquez and her team, she said, shaped up to be a challenge at first, having to find the continuity in “over 180 works that were not conceptually themed”, but made for an interesting experience overall, discovering works amongst the participating artists that complemented each other well.
“While some groupings were surprising, others flowed effortlessly,” she said.
Of the many artists to participate in this exhibition were: Ashley Baker, Jason Bennett, Sue Bennett-Williams, Jenna Chaplin, June Collie, Cydne Coleby, John Cox, Tyrone Ferguson, Kendra Frorup, Kendal Hanna, Guilden Gilbert, Lisa Goudie, Kylie Hutton, Jordanna Kelly, Kachelle Knowles, Sue Katz Lightbourn, Toby Lunn, Jodi Minnis, Dyah Neilson, Navarro Newton, Brian Omar, Judith Papillon, John Paul Saddleton, Sheldon Saint, Heino Schmid, Edrin Symonette, Keith Thompson, Katrina Toothe, Alexandra Timchula, Samantha Treco, Allan P. Wallace, Angelika Wallace-Whitfield, Janeen Walker, Drew Weech, Ana-Lisa Wells, Christina Wong, Verna Wood and Natascha Vazquez.
Vazquez expressed she and her team were pleased with the outcome of the event and excited to see so many new buyers purchasing original works for their emerging collections.
She adds that she hopes this showcase inspires artists to “continue pushing their practices”, citing, “Experimenting with working outside of their comfort zone helps to grow their practice. Perhaps in this instance, working smaller allowed for different interactions with their mediums, or simply the way they think about issues in their work. Speaking from experience, I know how easy it is to fall into a creative routine, to stick to what feels good. These open calls are a good opportunity for artists to break a pattern and create new pathways.”
“Small Works” was on view through Friday, July 5 at The Current: Baha Mar Gallery & Art Center. All Bahamians and Bahamian residents are invited to view works at the space on Sundays through Saturdays.