NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Just in time for National Youth Month, Sandals Emerald Bay recently provided a platform for up-and-coming young artists to showcase their talent.
Exuma’s first-ever art exhibition and competition, providing a platform showcasing 35 artists, ranging from elementary to high school, who presented 51 extravagant and colorful works of art.
As the resort’s ballroom was transformed into a private gallery for young people, those in attendance were captivated by the abundant talent and passion of the artists.
The inaugural event was the brainchild of well-known local artist and teacher, Eddie Nixon, who pitched the idea to the Sandals Emerald Bay team for a partnership.
“This event sends a powerful message to our young people that their artistic interests are valuable and that there is a place for them in Bahamian society and in the world,” said Resort General Manager Jeremy Mutton.
“Students can be sure they are seen, heard and understood through platforms like these that allow them to present themselves in a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment.”
For Nixon, the success of the initiative despite minimal funding was encouraging. “I hope the community will get involved by providing sponsors and more donations,” he said.
“As educators/artists we operate with limited resources and receiving donations would greatly help the schools on the island. The first annual art exhibition and competition demonstrates our best efforts to pool our resources to create a better Exuma for future generations.”
The contestants, their audience and the judges inside the transformed art gallery were also treated to a musical performance by saxophonist Pablo Smith, a student of LN Coakley High School.
All students received certificates of participation, and the top three performers in nine categories additionally received gift certificates and medals.
One such winner was Chelsea McLaughlin, a fifth-grade student at St. Andrews Anglican School, who won first place in the primary school category. She was delighted and shared: “I didn’t know I was going to win but my mom encouraged me. I love animals and my favorite was a cute drawing of a swimming pig. I feel very proud of myself. I’ll be back next year.”
LN Coakley twelfth grader Dazz McPhee won first prize in the high school category. He shared that art is his favorite thing to do in school. “I was very happy to participate in Sandals and to have my friends and my parents with me and I actually won,” he said.
Meanwhile, seventh grader at St Andrews, Valentino Newton, hailed the display during the art show. “My pieces were inspired by Jean-Michael Basquiat, a world famous artist. I want to thank Mr. Nixon for encouraging me to complete my submission,” Newton shared. He also left words of encouragement for his colleagues.
“For art loving Exuma students, I just want to say you can be a successful artist or architect, we are not limited to any career field.”