A mosaic that was installed on Saturday, November 30 in the Port Lucaya Marketplace has caused complaints among local vendors who believe the image misrepresents Bahamian people and culture.
The artwork, a creative project managed by Artist Jacki Boss, depicts a black man with dreadlocks standing back to back with a black woman wearing a head wrap.
According to Port Lucaya vendors, who wished to remain anonymous, the image has confused tourists who are unsure of how the persons represented in the mosaic relate to Bahamian people.
One merchant expressed concerns that the mosaic could lead visitors with limited knowledge of Bahamian culture to believe that The Bahamas is a “satellite” of Jamaica.
“I don’t understand why you’d have a Jamaican rasta in The Bahamas,” she said.
The vendor said, the space could have easily been used to portray artwork much closer to home.
“This is Port Lucaya, I would have had a Lucayan Indian village. You’ve got the history and the culture and it gets people talking about where exactly they are and the history of the country,” she said.
Another vendor shared the view that the space should have been reserved for artwork that paid tribute to Bahamian legends.
She listed a number of Bahamian politicians and athletes, past and present, whom she considered more suitable for the mosaic.
The merchant also named Junkanoo as an alternative to the present display.
“It’s a slap in the Bahamian people’s face. It does not represent the Bahamian people. It does not represent me or the children,” she said.
“We are not rastas ... that does not represent us. I think they should move it all together, because it does not represent The Bahamas.”
A Port Lucaya vendor, who said she saw the installation take place and was informed of the meaning behind the mosaic admitted that she still did not understand the purpose of the artwork.
She agreed with colleagues that the mosaic does not accurately depict Bahamian people, regardless of how many people worked on the project.
“All she said is it’s a community service of so many people doing the work. Okay, they did the work now, why put it here,” she said.
“Now that it is here what do I tell the tourists?” she asked.
Boss, who supervised the project from start to installation at Port Lucaya, said that she is familiar with the “complaints” and attributed these criticisms to a lack of understanding.
“For those who were not a part of the project, they cannot feel the sense of accomplishment of those who were,” Boss said in a statement concerning the mosaic.
“They may not appreciate the hours of volunteered time and labor that went into each stone of the mosaic. They don’t understand how much effort went into presenting their community with this extraordinary gift of public art. They do not know that, in the end, the project was more about the process of actualizing a sense of community than how good, or what the definition of, the final “picture” is.”
She explained that the project, which she envisioned in the summer of 2012, brought together 36 artists and residents to create and contribute a work of art to the wider community.
The purpose, she said, was to forge a bond between local artists and the community while creating a piece reminiscent of “Caribbean Flavor.”
Boss said, the mosaic does well to portray Caribbean flavor as dreadlocks are readily associated with the Caribbean regions.
“As for the woman, she could be Caribbean, or she could be from anywhere,” she said.
“It is two people who have each other’s backs as they stand united; a universal theme of strength and alliance with a Caribbean flavor.”
She added that she was pleased that through working on the mosaic, the artists “mimicked” the mosaic process.
“As participants worked diligently on shaping their motley of fragments to create their patterns, the project itself was shaping these diverse individuals to follow a pattern to create a single artwork,” Boss said.
Residents who contributed to the artwork defended the piece.
Wolansa Fountain said, she enjoyed working with her granddaughter on their portion of the border and is proud of the overall finished product.
“It’s beautiful and can be appreciated and treasured by everyone who sees it,” Fountain said.
Terrelle Tynes-Wilson, another contributor to the mosaic, said it was a pleasure to work with fellow Bahamians on the project.
Tynes-Wilson said, the spirit of giving back to the community was the central focus for many artists who worked on the mosaic.
The artists and volunteers who worked on the project gained the help of local tile merchants who donated material that could not be resold.
The mosaic used tiles as well as scrap materials, including a shattered windshield.
Boss revealed plans to have an official unveiling for the mosaic on Saturday, December 14.
Glenn Weiss, Delray Beach, Florida posted on: Friday, July 18, 2014 1:14 PM
Just a tourist this week in Freeport. The work is beautiful.
AD from Canada posted on: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 1:51 PM
"It’s beautiful and can be appreciated and treasured by everyone who sees it." Fountain said.
It may be that but it certainly in no way represents Bahamian Culture.
Wayne Arbeau posted on: Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:20 PM
As a Canadian visitor who has been coming to Grand Bahamas for 22 years, my first thoughts in viewing of this mosaic was "this isn't the Bahamian people I have come to know". I know it is an artful and beautiful mosaic but is not representative of Bahaians,
Inquiring Mind Wants to Know posted on: Thursday, December 12, 2013 3:40 PM
Who is Jacki Boss, the creator of this mosaic? I can't find any credentials, photos, other artwork produced, or anything at all on the internet about this artist.
Take It Down posted on: Thursday, December 12, 2013 3:32 PM
So just put up any mosaic misrepresentation in the name of working together? A sense of accomplishment of what? What's with the Rasta and the African headwrap? Better the artists walk around Port Lucaya and welcome the tourists with a hello and a smile, and a wish for an enjoyable visit. Now that would be some good working together! Meanwhile, hang a nice piece of Androsian Batik over the entire mistake, and figure out how to right this wrong.
posted on: Thursday, December 12, 2013 1:47 PM
This belongs in the "African section" in the International Bazaar, not in Port Lucaya Marketplace. I would have liked to see Lucayan Indians or a Junkanoo piece or a fisherman cleaning conch on the bay. Something Bahamian, as we are not even a part of the Caribbean.
Mindfamyself posted on: Thursday, December 12, 2013 1:18 AM
Women don't wrap their hair often either. Take this down. Plus Lucayans themselves had a rich cultural style that's integrated in The Bahamas today. But Port Lucaya doesn't seem to utilize marketing well. Vendors right at the entrance from the hotel don't seem to ever yield traffic bc in all honesty it's the last thing Americans want upon entering, how about that's not a depiction of the goods to spend on in the majority of Lucaya. (Even if it did, the location would clog up the entrance). Their product is foreign and identical so they shouldn't be the one's complaining about misrepresentation. There's also lots of talent or events that could be booked in the square to keep the venue lively during all cruise ship hours. Who's running things?
posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:36 PM
Who was responsible for approving this mosaic? The same person that approved shutting down and painting Count Basie Square for an entire month during the height of tourist season last winter? Is anyone ever brought to task? What is going on at Port Lucaya?
Johnny "rocket" Bain posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 1:05 AM
They are right it is NOT a true representation of the Bahamas, it should have depicted two men with T shirts tied around their faces using handguns to rob tourists and locals alike.