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Research and Academic Explore

Homer Milton Williams in front of his painting Quincentennial Bahamas, 1992, oil on canvas. Photographed at his residence in Nassau, The Bahamas, 2021. Courtesy of Keisha Oliver.

CLARK LECTURE

Almost Forgotten: Marginalized Histories in Bahamian Art (1950–1960s)

Keisha Oliver (University of the Bahamas), Clark Fellow

Circling themes of marginality, oral history, and cultural heritage, this talk examines the urgency of traditional and emerging archival practices and addresses a shift in the framing of historical narratives that challenge dominant representations and stigmas of outsider cultures in Bahamian artistic practices. Homer Milton Williams (b. 1940) emerged in the late 1960s as a self-taught Bahamian painter. Renowned for his “tourist art,” Williams’ career was bolstered when he became an artist in residence with Nassau Art Gallery, one of few spaces that promoted Black talent. He continued his career as an educator who mentored a generation of postcolonial artists before vanishing from the public art scene. Williams’ archival profile represents one piece of a larger research project, which aims to build a national archive that traces literary, performing, and visual arts development in The Bahamas.

Lecture video will remain available until December 31, 2021.

Keisha Oliver is assistant professor of art and design at the University of The Bahamas, where she also heads the Visual Arts and Design Department. As a curator and researcher, her scholarship investigates historical and contemporary Afro-Caribbean practices with a focus on colonial and postcolonial influences in Bahamian visual culture. Her published and creative work has appeared in Caribbean journals including Interviewing Caribbean and ARC Magazine as well as publications for The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. She contributed to the first co-authored text dedicated to contemporary Caribbean Art, A-Z Caribbean Art (2019). At the Clark, she will work on her current research, “Lost Voices in Bahamian Visual Culture,” an archival project documenting marginalized art histories beginning with the 1950s.