Each year, the Division of Fine Art of the Barbados Community College (BCC) showcases Portfolio, the culmination of the work of graduates from the associate degree and bachelor’s degree programmes in the various departments.
This year, the standard was the usual high quality we have come to expect and I congratulate students and staff on a job well done.
Portfolio Music attracts the highest number of patrons, many of whom are students not only from BCC but also from secondary schools where the performers honed their skills. The vociferous response leaves no doubt as to which school the graduate attended.
Support is also given by parents, the music fraternity in Barbados without whom this level of performance would not be possible – many of them are part-time tutors at the college – and the faithful music-loving public. The range and quality of the performances was excellent, as shown by the response from satisfied patrons.
For Portfolio Theatre Arts, the students staged Antigone at the Frank Collymore Hall, and the depth of understanding and level of performance which they brought to this difficult play was inspiring and encouraging. A friend of mine commented that Creon must have been an older guest performer, but when I checked, he was indeed a student, Kyle Blackman, only 19 years old. In addition, the student production team worked in areas of stage design, sound design, makeup design and stage management.
In the area of art, there were three Portfolios: Portfolio Studio Arts, with nine young artists who completed the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) presenting Come Out Tings; Portfolio Visual Arts, with over 40 students who completed the associate degree in visual arts with work ranging from sculpture to painting and drawing, photography to graphics and installation; and Portfolio Graphic Design, with ten students completing the associate degree.
The first two were presented at the Art Gallery and classrooms at Morningside, the home of the Division of Fine Art, transforming that location into a visual feast for the eyes. Graphic Design was presented at the Grand Salle.
I must compliment Rashad Stoute (Rychous), who gave me a detailed guided tour of the exhibition at Morningside and then explained his creative exhibition, with a bow and arrows which he demonstrated, and a tome which I was privileged to open, read and then lock with its special key!
Portfolio Fashion was also mounted at Morningside. Though the numbers were small, the students demonstrated their usual creativity, especially the Chequered Flag creations which could have been a hit at Bushy Park.
Portfolio Dance had as its theme Epic Journeys, and this presentation at Frank Collymore Hall was well received.
Heartiest congratulations to BCC staff and students, and especially those in the Division of Fine Art, for producing these Portfolio exhibitions which demonstrate the creativity, innovation, talent and technical skills of graduates.
My only regret is that not enough members of the general public – especially those who talk about the importance of creating cultural industries in Barbados – made the effort to see the exhibitions and more importantly, talk to the artists who put much thought and effort into what they were displaying.
And on to Crop Over! BCC graduates and students were to be seen and heard in most bands. And the lone woman in the Festival Band, Kelly Ann Patrick, is a graduate of music from BCC and also a graduate of Berklee College.
BCC art graduates were well represented in the Crop Over Visual Arts Exhibition. I was proud to see Ireka Jelani, who exhibited in Portfolio Studio Arts, also exhibiting at the Grand Salle. I know her journey was not an easy one and I give full marks to her and her husband who supported her every step of the way.
Let us all make a special effort to support the creativity and hard work of our budding artists in all genres. Talent and ability are not enough for success. Education, training, practice and hard work are essential for success in this as in other fields of endeavour.
I extend special thanks to staff in the Division of Fine Art at BCC, full and part time, who work under such difficult conditions, in such a cramped space, doing what they do for the love of it and for the benefit of the many talented graduates.
And beyond! Where do these graduates go and what are they doing? Crop Over is not the be-all and end-all of our creative expression.
Many of our graduates have gone on to further studies, some in the classical genre and others in jazz. Some have taken up jobs, especially teaching, and this is having a multiplier effect on the quality of offerings in NIFCA.
Others are making their way in the workplace, either self-employed, with a performing group or with a company.
Our graphic design graduates have found much scope for their talents in the manufacturing industry. All of them have a major role to play in the development of our creative and cultural industries and I salute them as they make their contribution to Barbados and the region.
I am pleased to note that in the recent Budget, some attention has been paid to the creative and cultural sector and that a draft Cultural Industries Bill, now ready, will be discussed with stakeholders later this year. I hope that this bill will emphasize the importance of education and training, for our success in this as in any other area will depend on the quality of our product.
Norma Holder is a former principal of the Barbados Community College.