The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands opens a new exhibition this week in the Dart Auditorium/Community Gallery, showcasing close to 100 works of art by 68 students who have participated in the NGCI Outreach programs this year.

The exhibition, titled “The Gift of Healing,” curated by this year’s NGCI Deutsche Bank intern, Candace Welcome, is open to the public.

“It’s been quite the experience, working with participants from the NGCI Outreach programs and curating the annual Outreach exhibition. I am thrilled that these works are on public display so everyone can appreciate the tremendous achievements that have been made this year,” Ms. Welcome said.

NGCI Outreach programs include Art Haven (classes for participants from Caribbean Haven, Northward and Fairbanks prisons, and Northward Juveniles) taught by Joseph Betty and sponsored by Lori Monk and Kevin Butler; EY’s Art Talk for participants 50 and older, taught by Kerwin Ebanks and sponsored by EY; EY’s Meet Me held in Grand Cayman and in Cayman Brac for residents of rest homes, taught by Kerwin Ebanks and Simone Scott and sponsored by EY; and Sunrise Art Club for adults with disabilities, taught by David Bridgeman.

The NGCI Outreach programs cater to a variety of community groups, ages and artistic levels. Art classes are held at the National Gallery when possible, but for some, NGCI instructors go out into the community to lead the projects.

Classes encourage the discovery of new skills and development of abilities through experimentation and apply concepts of art therapy where appropriate.

EY's Art Talk for people aged 50 and older.
EY’s Art Talk for people aged 50 and older.

NGCI Operations and Program Manager Tanya Whiteside said, “Outreach is a vital link for people in the community who may not be able to attend public NGCI programs, such as children with disabilities, young offenders, senior citizens, elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s and ordinary people struggling to free themselves from drug addiction.

“These Outreach classes account for a large portion of the National Gallery’s annual output and are made possible at no cost through the generosity of donors and sponsors.”

“The Gift of Healing” will be on display until May 25. For more information about the Outreach programs at the National Gallery, call 945-8111 or email [email protected]

Interview with curator Candace Welcome

What message do you hope that visitors will take away with them after they’ve seen “The Gift of Healing”?

I hope that visitors will leave feeling inspired and touched by the artworks on display. I would like them to experience the way art has motivated each individual within the Outreach programs to seek change and to choose positivity, despite their difficulties. It is my hope that they too will be inspired to do the same.

Ms. Finita Ebanks and Mr. Javon White joined the Sunrise Art Club, and display works influenced by Native Son artist, Gordon Solomon.
Ms. Finita Ebanks and Mr. Javon White joined the Sunrise Art Club, and display works influenced by Native Son artist, Gordon Solomon.

Tell us about some of the projects that are on display.

The two projects that stand out the most to me are the memory box projects that were created by Meet Me participants, a program for the residents of rest homes in Cayman, and the Gordon Solomon large “Spots-of-light” paintings created during the Sunrise Art Club for adults with disabilities.

The results of the “Spots-of-light” paintings were beautiful and they did a great job at demonstrating Gordon’s piece. Participants learnt how to visually mix color as a form of color theory by using warm colors to create the feeling of a sunset. The memory boxes were a great expression of each senior’s personality and allowed participants to tell their story. It also provided them with a safe place to hold the memories they held dear to their hearts.

How many Outreach students have participated in National Gallery programs this year?

This year we had a total of 81 Outreach students participating in the National Gallery programs. It may also be important to note that although the Art Talk program is included in the Outreach exhibition, the goal of the class was to explore and interpret artwork on display within our temporary exhibitions.

The exhibition showcases photographs of Outreach participants in action so you will be able to see what it’s all about.

What has been your most memorable Outreach experience this past year?

My visits to the prisons. On one visit in particular, I remember going there with Ms. Tanya Whiteside to evaluate Mr. Joseph Betty (the NGCI prison instructor) while he taught an art lesson. During our time there, I noticed how focused the inmates were on creating their pieces, and how keenly they listened to Mr. Betty’s instruction. They also seemed to have this relaxed and humorous spirit about each of them that made the time there quite enjoyable.

I felt really inspired by their enthusiasm and loved the expression in their artwork. After the class had ended, one of the inmates shared his gratitude with us for taking the time to come to the prison to visit them. He stood and proclaimed how they all were so thankful for our presence there, and that we gave them inspiration to continue creating. His words were encouraging to hear as I now know how beneficial the Art Haven program was to the inmates, and it sure felt great to participate in making a difference in their lives.

John Walton and Candace Welcome, NGCI Deutsche Bank intern and curator of 'The Gift of Healing.'
John Walton and Candace Welcome, NGCI Deutsche Bank intern and curator of ‘The Gift of Healing.’

What has surprised you the most about working on an exhibition, like the Outreach exhibition?

The large part the gallery plays in providing such avenues for the individuals of these programs. It wasn’t until I started working here that I realized how much the National Gallery actually does for the community.

What do you like best about working at the National Gallery?

The experiences I have been able to have working alongside people of various ages, nationalities, disabilities and difficulties. I absolutely love going out into the community to inspire others to embrace their creativity.

Has the NGCI Deutsche Bank internship changed the way you look at galleries and museums?

Yes, definitely. As a visitor, I was only able to see the “final product.” I say this, because after working here at the gallery, I can see that there is much more to the paintings and artworks you see in an exhibition space. I’ve been able to see how the gallery operates from a business standpoint, as well as how it seeks to provide programs that foster growth, interest, and skill in the arts.

I have seen how the gallery has continued to provide these free programs and admission due to the extensive planning of many events throughout the year, such as the Annual Fundraising Gala. Thus, there is quite a bit of “elbow grease” that’s required to successfully operate a gallery.

What are your plans after you complete your internship?

I will be focusing on gaining more experience in the field of the arts within Cayman, whether that be within our schools, hospitals, or counseling centers. I will also be looking for opportunities to improve my skills and prepare for grad school.