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Presentation charts the history of Black art in Bermuda

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Ajala Omodele, right, and Liana Nanang, Bermudian storytellers and co-founders of Unchained on the Rock (Photograph by Jayde Gibbons)

The “origins, inspiration and purpose” of Black art in pre-colonial Africa and today in Bermuda will be discussed at a presentation this evening.

Unchained on the Rock, a Bermuda-based initiative that chronicles narratives of Black liberation and resistance throughout the Atlantic Basin, is presenting a fundraising performance of their talk Beyond Seascapes: Black Art in Bermuda this evening, to benefit the Bermuda Society of Arts.

The presentation also looks at how a major shift in the trajectory of Black art was triggered by the Ma’afa, also known as the Holocaust of Enslavement, or the Great Disaster in Swahili.

Ajala Omodele and Liana Nanang, Bermudian storytellers and co-founders of Unchained, will discuss how Black artists of all disciplines have “subverted and challenged expectations of what acceptable art in Bermuda should be”.

Ms Nanang, said: “Our passion lies in making our history enjoyable and entertaining and, most importantly, accessible to our people outside of private hires.

“So we’ve focused our Black History Month pop-up on supporting the BSoA with a donation-based event.”

The talk is at the Bermuda Society of Arts (Image supplied)

The presentation will mark the closing night of Whayasin, an exhibition geared towards Black artists in Bermuda that explores their perspective on the Black artist’s position within the culture of Bermuda.

Speaking of the shift in Black art as a result of the Ma’afa, Mr Omodele, an educator, writer, poet and lecturer, said: “From this vantage point, we will examine the work of artists such as Chesley Trott, Bill Ming, Gherdai Hassell, Norman Lewis and many others as well as explore photographic, musical and literary art including the Gombeys and Calypso music.

“We will tie in Bermudian history by placing the work in the context of the times.”

The event is being billed as “engaging and interactive”, and it will leave you feeling empowered, educated and entertained, organisers said.

Speakers will present researched history, personal anecdotes, video and musical clips, poetry reading and thoughtful analysis and critique.

Nzingha Ming, executive director of the BSoA, said: “Unchained on the Rock’s presentation is more than a history talk, and more than an art talk, it is an experience not to be missed.”

Bios of the presenters

Mr Omodele is an educator, writer, poet and lecturer. He is the author of Dame Lois: The People’s Advocate, They Called Him Roose and Look for Me in the Whirlwind: A Story of Marcus Garvey. Holding a master’s degree in Education, Mr Omodele has taught at the primary and middle school level, and designed and delivered a graduate-level course at York University. He has conducted professional development seminars on Black history for Bermuda’s educators and featured as a speaker for Oxford University’s Race and Resistance Conference, and ThinkFest. He has been featured in a variety of international documentaries, has been interviewed by Forbes and several of his poems have been published in MOKO: Caribbean Arts and Letters. His poem, entitled The Crossing (aka why I don’t like tall ships) was selected for inclusion in the 2022 Bermuda National Gallery Biennial.

Ms Nanang is a multidisciplinary storyteller whose work navigates race, nationality, trauma, resilience, spirituality, colonialism and her identity as a neurodivergent woman of colour. Liana’s writing and photography have featured in The New York Times, and she has been interviewed by Forbes, the UK’s BBC Breakfast and BBC World News. She won Best Columnist in the 2017 Best of Bermuda Awards and was awarded Use of Materials in the 2021 Charman Prize at Masterworks Museum. Ms Nanang obtained a Law degree from University College London and is a New York-qualified attorney. Both her visual art and poetry were selected for the 2022 Bermuda National Gallery Biennial.

* Information provided by Unstoried

Unchained on the Rock is presenting alongside two surprise guest performers.

A donation of $50 per person is suggested based on standard ticket prices, however entry may be obtained by a minimum donation of $5.

Doors will open at 5:15pm, and the presentation will begin promptly at 5:45pm. The event will end at 7:30pm.

It is free to artists with work in the current show. Registration is available at http://www.bsoa.bm/beyond-seascapes.

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Published February 27, 2024 at 11:44 am (Updated February 27, 2024 at 3:27 pm)

Presentation charts the history of Black art in Bermuda

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