Art 400 Profile: Christina Darville – Who Are We?
Too often, art classes act in an “academic vacuum” said College of The Bahamas art instructor, John Cox. To give his advanced students experience in the local art world and to “breathe life into the art program” at The College of The Bahamas, he helps them plan and carry out site-specific art pieces.
The latest location is the new building at The College of The Bahamas, the state-of-the-art Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre – fitting since Harry C. Moore was a lifelong patron of the arts.
“I think a lot of people don’t know what a supporter of the arts he was and these pieces bring attention to it,” said Cox. “It presents a present and future effort to make the library a monument to contemporary visual expression.”
Over the next few weeks, Arts&Culture will be examining the installations in this library by his Art 400: Advanced Painting students.
Sidney Poitier. Hubert Ingraham. Francis Adderley. When Bahamians wonder “Who are we?” do they take a look at those who have formed our landscape, culture and identity?
In Christina Darville’s installation at the centerpiece of the Harry C. Moore Library and Information Center, viewers are made to ponder this very question in the title of the art piece. The faces staring back in the framed portraits made by Darville in intricate ink designs—Bahamian pioneers in arts, culture, politics, education, religion—may trigger recognition in some viewers, but how many know every single hero in their history?
For Darville, the piece is a chance for viewers to explore their Bahamian identity through icons in Bahamian history as an inspirational exercise.
“I feel like if my viewers see so many Bahamian people accomplishing things, then they will feel inspired,” she says. “I feel most people don’t even know who these heroes are.”
“Even as the artist I didn’t know all until I did the research and looked for heroes. It’s a learning experience, to stand there and examine this work and see if you as a Bahamian can figure out who these people—and you—are.”
Though made for her COB art class, Darville’s piece was also exhibited during the 2012 Transforming Spaces art tour under the theme of “Fibre” in the space as part of the Pro Gallery. She explores fibrous materials through the twine used to make the frames, however the thematic implication of fibre plays a bigger role in the intertwining of Bahamian forefathers to create the fabric of the nation today.
“I realized it could explain was Fibre was to me and satisfy what I wanted to do for the class as well, so I combined both and put all the work into one piece,” explains Darville.
“I wanted to approach Fibre in a different way—I didn’t want to use plait. I wanted to think outside the box. So I started to think about the Bahamian people and how we impact our landscape.”
Working on the piece was certainly a huge undertaking for the emerging artist, but the outcome adds a poignant weight to the dome space of the library. Besides a better understanding of Bahamian heroes, Darville also found her artistic voice through the exercise, developing her signature ink design style and using it to pay tribute to—and re-imagine—those who came before her.
“In the middle of the semester I felt like I might quit,” Darville says. “It’s a lot, to fill that wing, but I felt if I was using that space, I needed to do the whole wing, or else it would feel incomplete.”
“The piece affected me greatly. It’s so big and I usually don’t do pieces so big. It helped me feel confident in myself and stronger.”
The Nassau Guardian
Arts & Culture
Published: May 25, 2012