Artists around the world have
been depicting the iconic maternal figure in various poses and mediums from
ancient times. “From the fertility
sculptures of the Paleolithic era to depictions of Gaia, the Earth Mother, in
ancient Greece, to the countless paintings of the Madonna and Child,
representations of motherhood - both symbolic and actual - have been among the
most popular subjects in art” (1) Contemporary Bahamian artists have likewise
embraced the mother as a popular subject, painting serene Madonnas with a
glowing halos, goddesses with powerful reproductive powers, new mothers
struggling with pregnancy or sickly newborn infants, loving mothers nurturing
babies on the breast, and proud, selfless women tackling the grueling work of
providing for their families.
For this exhibition, we were inspired to select artworks that depict the women in our communities, either realistically or symbolically, as they fulfill the many challenging and rewarding roles required of them as mothers. Stellar contemporary Bahamian renditions of the saintly blessed Madonna illustrate the power of this image centuries after it appeared in Byzantine art. Using a variety of mediums and styles, our artists effectively portray women carrying new life in their miraculous bodies, giving birth to new generations and simultaneously raising our collective hopes for a brighter future and the betterment of humankind. Most of our celebrated artists have captured mothers working tirelessly to nurture their children, provide for their families, keep their homes running smoothly, and fight moments of overwhelming and lonely exhaustion.
As you view these artworks, consider the women in your community who give every ounce of their energy to succeed in their roles as mothers and protectors. What they lack in dollars, they make up for with love and faith. They do not complain or cry. They do not ask for pity or help. One might be your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, neighbor or someone who attends your church. You know them when you see them: They are the Blessed Mamas of our community and we applaud their majesty, dignity and sacrifice.
(1) Shelley Esaak, "The Art of Motherhood"