Gallery exhibition explores women’s role in Caymanian history

Local artists offer their interpretation of theme

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette's 'Back to Home' piece.

A new National Gallery exhibition will examine the vital role women played in Caymanian society from the 1800s through to the mid-1900s, as told through the work of local artists.

The exhibition, which is supported by Butterfield, seeks to facilitate a dialogue around the story of the resilience, adaptive ingenuity, creativity and technical prowess of the women of diverse backgrounds who remained on land during the heyday of the Cayman Islands’ maritime industry.

Women’s contributions provided stability and ensured that the islands continued to flourish both socially and economically in adverse conditions, waiting months and sometimes years for the safe return of husbands, brothers and sons.

The 26 artists whose works have been selected for the exhibition are: Marlena Anglin, Isy B., Dubadah Boldeau, John Broad, Randy Chollette, Maya Cochrane, John Clark, Carmen Connolly, Patrice Donalds-Morgan, Al Ebanks, Rosemay Ebanks, Meegan Ebanks, Kathryn Elphinstone, Horacio Esteban, Stuart Holmes, John Reno Jackson, Pamela Kelly, Peggy Leshikar-Denton, Charles Long, Sarah McDougall, Bridget McPartland, Tiffany Polloni, Lizzie Powell, Ren Seffer, Gordon Solomon and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette.

The featured artists were encouraged to include a formal research component into their projects and were asked to specifically consider the roles of Caymanian women through the lens of individual and collective health; economic development through the prudent and creative management of local and remitted resources; relationships and the personal and social reverberations of long absence; faith and beliefs, formal and informal; and women as keepers of communal memories.

Inspired by oral histories, archival material, family stories and historical objects, the resulting work covers a diverse range of mediums, styles and genres ranging from illustrative painting and traditional craft to video and installation work. Additional artwork from the collections of the National Gallery, the Cayman Islands National Museum and the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, as well as photographs from the Cayman Islands National Archive, have also been be included.

“The artists featured in this exhibition have each addressed our theme in different ways, resulting in a visually complex and very thought-provoking exhibition,” said the gallery’s director, Natalie Urquhart. “While this is not a literal illustration of our history, the artworks provide a platform for a wider community programme that addresses the contribution that women have made to our modern society.”

The programme will include panel discussions with community leaders and local historians, along with members of the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association and representatives of professional women’s clubs on island, as well as special events for families and an extensive school tour programme that also explores the theme.

“Art has always had a unique ability to influence opinions and translate experiences over space and time. As a long-time supporter of the gallery, we are always pleased to provide our support and recognise the extremely important role art – and by extension, the National Gallery – plays in our community. We look forward seeing the exhibition and programmes and wish to congratulate the participating artists and the National Gallery,” said Michael McWatt, managing director of Butterfield Cayman.

| The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday and runs until 28 May. Admission to the exhibition and related programmes is free, thanks to support from Butterfield. For a full list of all workshops, lectures and events running throughout this exhibition, visit
www.nationalgallery.org.ky/whats-on. To book a tour or participate in the related school programme, email Maia Muttoo, [email protected]

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