Art has a long history of helping to raise awareness; the passion it creates has influenced history.
In the 1970s, murals were created to support anti-apartheid, cartoons were used to call attention to AIDS, and multiple women artists used the medium to speak out against sexism.
This concept is now being utilized by the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and its partners, the Keep Grand Bahama Clean Committee and Waterkeepers Bahamas, to remind residents about the importance of protecting sea life in Bahamian waters.
The team unveiled its latest sea-themed project at Kelly’s circle in Freeport’s downtown area.
“We are very excited about the vibrant sea life murals on the Basil T. Kelly circle,” said Lynn Lowe, managing director of Kelly’s and daughter of Kelly’s Freeport founder, Basil T. Kelly.
“My father was the president of the Bahamas National Trust for many years and the protection of our environment and beautification of The Bahamas has always been paramount to the Kelly family. The artwork is superb.”
Protecting the environment and the need to expedite repair is quickly now becoming part of the daily dialogue.
Recent storms, particularly in Grand Bahama, have heightened awareness of the effect of global warming, and the damage hurricanes have on the seas and natural protective barriers.
The partners on this project want the artwork created to do more than just beautify the area.
“Keep Grand Bahama Clean, which is an initiative of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, was birthed to promote not only a clean environment but also a beautiful one,” said Nakira Wilchcombe, GBPA vice president of building and development services.
“Using the roundabouts, which are green spaces, allows for a dual purpose to be achieved; as the circles are beautified, residents are encouraged to connect with nature through art.”
This is the second sea-themed piece for the island; the first one depicting a coral reef theme in multiple colors, at the east sunrise circle named “Coral Dawn”.
Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, said at the unveiling, “It is wonderful to see the beautiful sculpture work of Jackie Boss displayed on the roundabouts in Freeport. These pieces bring the beauty of the underwater world to us.
“It is with great hope that they inspire motorists and pedestrians to begin to care for our beaches, knowing what will be affected by pollution or mismanagement.
“Many of our program students have had the opportunity to snorkel or dive off of Grand Bahama and have seen up close the corals, eels and other marine life featured in these sculptures; now, we hope their parents and family will want to as well.”
Sarah St. George, acting chairman of the GBPA, was on hand to officially unveil the three column sculptures, which feature seahorses, eels and other marine life on blue water backgrounds. The work has been created in cement and glass by lead artist Boss, who worked with local artist, Maquelle Munroe, to create this latest homage.
Boss, a 14-year resident of Grand Bahama, has been working with the GBPA team for a few years now.
In 2018, she helped design the Golden Knights circle, celebrating The Bahamas men’s 4x400m team consisting of Chris Brown, Demetrius Miller, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller, as well as installing a colorful tessellation (mosaic) in Port Lucaya Marketplace in 2013.
“The displays depicting marine life are currently significant in their rousing awareness for the environmental protection,” Boss said.
“Climate issues are a global concern and the fragility of our surrounding ecosystems should remain at the forefront for locals and visitors alike.”
This is not the end of the marine protection-themed projects for GBPA and partners who are looking to start work on the next circle shortly.
Most importantly, the partners are hoping to engage the youth of the island to protect their environment, and engage their families, too.
Angel Percentie, a 12th-grade student of Bishop Michael Eldon School (BMES), who is president of the BMES eco-school club, was on hand representing the next generation who will be in charge of preserving the future.
“Being a part of eco-school has shown me a new way of life, a sustainable life, where energy is collected directly from the sun and stored as solar panels, and hydroponic systems exist,” Percentie said.
“It is little things like this … like putting murals on roundabouts people see every day, that plant seeds that ultimately alter lifestyles and bring about the most significant change.
“In a world that is constantly going to shamble environmentally, we must empower each other to be the change we wish to see, if not for ourselves, for the future.”