Grand Bahama News

Local artists bring climate change into frame

Three artists are aiming to illustrate the impact of Hurricane Dorian, remind Grand Bahamians of the beauty of their island, and start a conversation about being eco-conscious through a traveling art exhibition, titled, “One Goat and Three Birds”.

They are also collaborating with Nassau-based solar panel company Inti Corporation for its ongoing student essay competition focusing on renewable energy and its impact on climate change.

High school students and college students will have the chance to win cash prizes, become Inti Corporation’s youth ambassador for a year, and attend environmental forums and youth conferences.

Artists Chantal Bethel, Jo Morasco, and Laurie Tuchel held the first showing of “One Goat and Three Birds” at the Rand Nature Center last Friday.

The artwork will stay at the center until March 11, then it will move to New Providence to be displayed at The Current: Baha Mar Gallery & Art Center on April 14.

The exhibition was three years in the making and features paintings, sculptures, and tapestries created using various techniques such as wood burning, needlework, loom weaving, and the mixing of digital and physical mediums.

The artwork depicts scenes of Grand Bahamians braving the 2019 storm as well as interpretations of the emotions the artists themselves felt after its passing.

One of Bethel’s creations is a video installation in which she replicates her experience during the Category 5 storm.

The inspiration for and title of the showcase alludes to a quote from former Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira after an assessment of the 2019 Equinor oil spill on Grand Bahama.

He said, “On land, we can confirm that one goat and three birds were impacted.”

The artists were moved to express that much more was affected.

“It felt very dismissive…,” said Tuchel.

“We kept thinking that this just didn’t feel right and could we take it as an opportunity to facilitate more conversation about the importance of this island.”

Bethel added, “After the storm, after I came out … all I saw was a lot of trees lining up, looking at you and all the homes were gutted.

“That was the genesis of my work. It’s trying to deal with the reality of it.”

Tuchel said, “When someone looks at my work, I want them to relate to it. I want them to remember how lucky and beautiful life can be.

“I’d rather create an image that a viewer doesn’t get frightened of but remembers a moment in their own life when they did feel comfort.”

The artists also want to encourage people to be mindful of the environment and feel the need to protect it.

“I have a piece that literally has junk in it to depict what is happening to our ocean floor and our environment,” said Morasco.

“For years, I’ve been weaving about the destruction that not only we as people are doing, as far as throwing things in the ocean, but, also, our land.”

The artists also invited Grand Bahama-based coral farm Coral Vita and NGO Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) to speak about their initiatives.

Coral Vita Co-Founder and President Gator Halpern discussed the function and importance of the reefs.

He emphasized that The Bahamas’ corals are a main eco-attraction, are 

responsible for replenishing the country’s fisheries, and assisted in the formation of the islands through the limestone they produce.

Halpern also noted that 80 percent of the country’s reefs have died and that 90 percent of the world’s reefs are predicted to follow by 2050.

He explained that Coral Vita created a model that grows corals 50 percent faster than it does naturally. Halpern added that the model is being scaled to grow thousands of corals at a single farm and expanded to other countries in need of reef restoration.

BTT Bahamas Initiative Manager Justin Lewis focused on the contributions and state of The Bahamas’ mangroves.

Lewis stated that the mangroves are responsible for supporting the bonefishing industry which generates more than $169 million annually and employs over 8,000 Bahamians.

He then said that BTT, along with University of Alabama, found that Abaco and Grand Bahama lost a respective 40 percent and 72 percent of their mangroves.

The organization plans to plant 100,000 mangroves by the end of 2024 and is open to locals assisting their cause by volunteering or donating to their Bahamas mangrove restoration project via the BTT website.

Lewis also expressed his delight with the art exhibition.

“Featuring more Bahamian artists, featuring Bahamian researchers, combining science and art is a great way to convey the message of conservation,” he said.

Grand Bahama residents Betty Bethel-Moss and Brent Deveaux were also moved.

“Anybody who perhaps would have experienced Dorian, had a loss and perhaps is still getting over it – the paintings resonate with those feelings,” noted Deveaux.

“It will bring awareness and it would cause more people to want to come out and view what happened during Dorian,” added Bethel-Moss.

“I didn’t think a lot of people still get climate change, but I think this is a great way to present it.”

To make a submission, or for details on the essay competition, you can contact The deadline is April 15.

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