Art Is Sweet
Artist Kendal Hanna in front of “24 Weeks” – made in honour of his work by the students of the ASMAC programme.
This past Monday, June 4th, the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery on Frederick Street was the scene of a smorgasbord of good eats and treats. However, none if it was actually edible; they were colourful and creative works of art unveiled at “Art is Sweet” also known as “Happy Birthday Kendal“.
The spectacle of artistic delights are the result of the hard work and imaginative efforts of the talented students of the After School Music and Art Classes (ASMAC) programme in their 19th Annual Art Exhibition and Musical Showcase.
ASMAC was founded in 1993 by veteran artist and art educator Sue Bennett-Williams and musician husband Tom Williams. The music portion of the programme began in 1996 and they have been operating this much sought after art & music programme from their home studio for the past 19 years. Students from all over the island attend their classes. It is so well thought of that there is often a rather long waiting list to get in – although there is the odd occasion of a few openings becoming available, as is the case for this upcoming fall semester.
This year’s programme had the students study and examine the artwork of a number of particular artists and cultures including the artwork of American pop artist Wayne Thiebaud, English/Bahamian artist Dave Smith, African American collage artist Romare Bearden, Spanish Master Pablo Picasso and Austrian Symbolist painter Gustave Klimt as well as Egyptian, Greek and American Indian artwork. Throughout the exhibition, you will be able to see these influences on the artwork produced by the children.
But the showstopper of the exhibition is the large multi-part piece one encounters directly ahead on the main wall as you walk into the gallery space. The piece is the culmination of a group project where every student in the programme contributed their vision to the evolution of the artwork. It is entitled “24 Weeks” and is based on the work of Bahamian abstract expressionist artist Kendal Hanna and American artist Julie Mehretu, hence the alternate title of “Happy Birthday Kendal”.
“24 Weeks” was developed to encourage the students to explore abstract design in a way that allowed them to make marks, use color, pencil, paint, collage, etc. and to change it every week. Very often, young art students create something and are satisfied with the results after the first attempt…they like what they see and do not want to change what they made. This project forced them to look at it and re-evaluate what they were doing constantly.
The format used was a square of various sizes depending on the class. Every group of students from Monday to Thursday would work on their piece for five minutes and the Friday group worked on theirs for 10 min once a week for the entire two terms that made up the first 24 weeks of the annual programme.
Using a different medium each week – sometimes adding and sometimes taking away – guided the project. The students were asked to cut, tear, draw or glue things onto their piece. The one constant was that the piece changed and evolved every week for 24 weeks.
The concepts that were developed throughout all the classes was that of light, shadow and creating the illusion of depth. They had to learn to how to put circles in perspective as well as paint and create from clay delicious and yummy looking food. The students used paint, oil pastels, graphite and ink for the work based on Dave Smith’s movie marquees. They also created self portraits using color and small squares in the vein of American artist Chuck Close. French Impressionist Claude Monet was the inspiration behind the paintings of water lily ponds featured in the show. The colourful bird paintings and mosaics were drawn from the work of English artist Elizabeth Butterworth.
All in all, it is clear that the young students of the ASMAC programme receive a diverse and comprehensive immersion into the practice of art-making. It informs them of varying art techniques, contemporary and historical art and artists, as well as the world surrounding them affording them the inspiration and freedom to express their own inner vision. The evidence of which is presented in the clever and creative work showcased every year in their annual exhibition.
The “Art is Sweet” exhibition is on view at the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery on Frederick Street until June 28, 2012.
Source: Bahamian Art & Culture