Bahamian artist Nadine Munroe has combined her love of country with her love of abstract art in her first solo exhibition in more than a decade.
The mixed media work is nostalgic in its subject matter but abstract in its technique, creating a refreshing juxtaposition of yesteryear and today.
“I don’t limit myself,” said Munroe. “I am inspired by my surroundings.”
This is obvious from her most recent body of work entitled “Feel the Rhythm”, now on exhibit at Hillside House Gallery, Cumberland Street.
Munroe uses paint, fabric and old photographs to create deeply layered mixed-media pieces that she compares to the human character.
“No one single event makes up someone. Different events and roles create a personality. That’s the way I treat my work,” Munroe told Guardian Arts & Culture.
Munroe, mother of three, wife of a pastor and businessman, businesswoman and, of course, artist, can appreciate the different roles and life events that shape an individual.
In between raising three children — including a set of twins — and helping her husband run a successful landscaping company, Munroe always found the time to create, whether it was in a studio at her mother’s house, behind the landscape shop on Carmichael or at her Sandyport home studio and gallery.
While many of her contemporaries in the art community pursued their careers immediately after college, Munroe quietly created work in her studio, mostly late at night when no one was around and the children were asleep.
Munroe has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and is a former lecturer at The College of The Bahamas. More recently, her work has been included in the group show “Single Sex” and “40 Years of Art in The Bahamas” at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB).
She says it was always her intention to one day have another solo show.
“Feel the Rhythm” marks the welcome return — at least in a more public way — of a Bahamian artist who adds even more depth to an already vibrant local art community.
“Now I have the chance to focus more on my art,” said Munroe, who has been working on the pieces for “Feel the Rhythm” since last year.
She is inspired by her surroundings and spends hours in fabric stores searching for just the right material, and combs through family albums and libraries for the perfect nostalgic images she uses in this body of work.
Munroe describes herself as “very nostalgic”.
“I’m the type of Bahamian that loves everything Bahamian. I love porches, colonial architecture, the atmosphere, the peace, the quiet,” she saids.
Her love for all things Bahamian, the traditions, the heritage and the culture are particularly evident in pieces like “The Honeymooners”, which features a photograph of a couple on their honeymoon on Margaret Cay in the 1950s; “The Wedding Reception”, which centers on a group of dressed-to-the-nines Bahamian women, and “The Real Beat”, featuring a vintage Junkanooer.
Not all of the pieces in “Feel the Rhythm” include photographs. Others are a strong nod to her love of abstract expressionism. They feature heavily layered vertical lines and graceful marks of bright color on canvas.
“I’m on the loose right now,” said Munroe. “I am having a ball because I am doing what I love to do. I am excited about this show and I am already preparing for another show that you will be hearing about soon.”
Munroe hints that her upcoming show will be strictly abstract.
“My motto is that I create from the spirit,” she said. “I’m like a recorder. I just absorb images that I love, and I put them on whatever surface I happen to be working on.”
The Nassau Guardian
Published: September 28, 2013