Friday, 23 June 2017

Bahamian student artist wins prize

On Friday, March 17th, The Scarfone/Hartfold Gallery of the University of Tampa opened its Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. This exhibition featured student works selected through open call submissions. The submissions ranged from mixed media paintings, installations and three dimensional artworks. About forty different artworks were displayed.

This year, the exhibition was judged by Julie Heffernan, Professor of Art at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Honorable mention awards were given, and awards in the categories of Best 3-Dimensional Work, Best Portraiture, Best Installation, Best 2-Dimensional Work, etc. Bahamian emerging artist, Jodi Minnis, won best 2-dimensional work for her video, Paranoia.

In the summer of 2016, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas published a travel advisory for Bahamian students and tourists visiting certain parts of the United States of America due to tension sparked by police brutality against black people. The advisory was not well received by the US. Ironically, the US Embassy in The Bahamas and cruise lines publish many travel advisories for their citizens and patrons in reference to the increasing number of crime in New Providence, The Bahamas over the past five (5) years.

Paranoia was created to exist in the middle of those advisories: a caution of being black in America and a caution of the increasing crime back home. Standing amongst African Americans, a Bahamian would not be recognizable at first glance. The distinction lies in our behaviour and accent/dialect. However, the same distinction that isolates us from other nationalities in the US would not be the saving grace in The Bahamas.

Minnis asks, “Considering the blatant xenophobia arising in parts of the United States, would my behaviour and accent/dialect be a saving grace? This work was created to navigate these things and serve as a release of concerns as a black Bahamian studying in the United States.”

Minnis is a junior at the University of Tampa pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts.

CLICK HERE to watch Minnis’ award-winning video.

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