“Sketch24”, a concept conceptualised by the “Popop community”, particularly by master artists John Cox and Heino Schmid, began around the time of 2011 when the University of The Bahamas (UB) was still the College of The Bahamas.
The event invited emerging student artists to the grounds of Popopstudios, to sketch live models and exhibit the works upon completion of the 24 hours, raising funds for the space. It started at Hillside House, also known as the Antonius Roberts Studio and Gallery, with breakfast, and wound up at the contemporary art space, Popopstudios.
Through this initiative, contemporary Bahamian artists like Piaget Moss, Rashad Adderley, Christina Wong, Keith Thompson, Jordanna Kelly, Jalan Harris, Cydne Coleby, Dominique Knowles, Richardo Barrett, Nowé Harris-Smith, Angelika Wallace-Whitfield, Jodi Minnis and many others were given space to grow their practices.
When I consider the magic conjured up through Bahamian multidisciplinary artist Jodi Minnis last weekend, I turn to the words of American author, feminist and social activist bell hooks to make sense of the moment and the feelings I felt.
“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.” (Killing Rage: Ending Racism, 1995)
In many ways, as a literary artist, I felt inspired and encouraged for many reasons but mainly two: firstly, by the strong support of community that continues to affirm and show up for artists who are doing the work to better the creative space, and secondly, by the artistic integrity, responsibility and work ethic of Minnis herself.
She affirms her place in the community by honouring the members who had started a legacy long before she sank into her purpose as an artist. Eight years later, and Minnis returns to Popopstudios to pay homage to the previous tradition with her latest body of work, entitled “And This Is What I Will Do” – a 24-hour charcoal drawing performance show that ran from Saturday, July 20 at 9 a.m. through Sunday, July 21, same time. The fruits of her labour were exhibited on Sunday evening.
In her artist statement, she expresses: “During this time, I seek to negotiate time, space, nature and access to the matriarchal. The performance employs as an ode to my grandmothers – with whom I have spent my childhood summers tending to their yards and gardens. For the duration of the time, I will draw still life works and sculptures constructed from plants and objects from my maternal grandmother and mother’s garden from observation.
“In the same vein, I intend to bridge the gap between the Sketch24 event and the function of Popopstudios Gallery as a public studio space. This performance will introduce viewers to the renewed gallery space while continuing the legacy of Popop as a contemporary art space.”
A double dose of devotion is summed up in this one expression, Minnis prioritizes community through “claiming the identities and cultural legacies” as hooks speaks of, and she is grateful.
“Drawing for 24 hrs at Popop is not a new practice to this community, and I can not speak about my endeavour as if it is in isolation. Although I was the only one drawing this time, the artists of my generation showed up for me in multiple ways. It was truly a community event. I am so happy to be an artist in this time with you all. You make my heart so full, and I hope that we continue to show up for one another,” Minnis shared in a subsequent Facebook post.
Adding to this feeling of gratefulness is her even receiving recognition from Bahamian creatives who have made a name for themselves not only locally, but regionally and internationally as well.
Fashion designer Theodore Elyett, fine artist and graphic designer Philece Roberts, otherwise known as “thatArtista”, singer-songwriter and performer Patrice Murelle and documentarian and multimedia visual artist Tamika Galanis all took to their Instagram stories to share highlights from Minnis’ 24-hour artistic pursuit, as seen reposted within her own Instagram story.
If there is anything one should take away from Minnis’ endeavours last weekend, it is that dedication shows up in ways that transfer over into how one should revere other members within a society, across the board throughout any and every work and community space.