Art and Music of the Bahamas

by Eddie Minnis and Family

“Imagine 'The Bahamas' and what do you see?”

“... Elegant, swaying palm trees; blazing orange and scarlet poincianas; luxuriant, green and purple seagrapes; and of course, the beach – white or coral sands and turquoise seas.

You have in fact, just imagined a painting by Mr. Eddie Minnis, whose gem-like canvases – filled with saturated colour, sparkling sunlight, and an overwhelming sense of peace – have become the iconic images of our nation.

His daughters, Nicole and Roshanne, learned to draw at their father's knee, yet found their own voices and styles, which can be described as photorealism... Both create carefully studied portraits of regular folk, going about their daily tasks.

Nicole's work, which is executed mainly in oils, records the emotions of the characters, etched in their faces or shining through their eyes. She reveals a deep pathos for her fellow citizens, and as a portraitist, she can rival any of the greats.

Her younger sister, Roshanne, works in oils as well, but is also highly proficient in her use of pastels. Roshanne's work differs from Nicole's in that her concentration is on the manual and physical labour undertaken by many Bahamians;

Ritchie Eyma is Roshanne's soul-mate and a part of the Minnis family and its artistic heritage.... He is another painter who is in love with the Bahamian landscape, the people, and their traditional way of life, although he captures them in a darker-toned palette, which is possibly an influence derived from his early years spent in Haiti.

All four artists focus on similar, but slightly different aspects of Bahamian life … we are thus confronted with a totality of the traditional everyday Bahamian experience.”

Amanda Coulson
National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

“Paintings should delight the eye like music excites the ear.”

“What I have learned in my creative career is that you must believe in yourself and be willing to follow your dreams. When I was young, people told me that you could not make a living as an artist in the Bahamas and that you had to be a trained singer with a beautiful voice to be a successful performer.

However, I saw the incredible beauty of the Bahama Islands and our rich architectural heritage. I wanted to follow a career that I could enjoy always and I was convinced that if I worked hard I could make a living as an artist.

Today there is much more appreciation for art in the Bahamas, and I am one of many Bahamians who make a living from their art. I have an archive of more than 3,000 cartoons that were published in “The Guardian” and “The Tribune” during my ten-year career as a cartoonist. Most of my island music C.D.s have been well received by Bahamians and visitors alike over the past three decades.

I also have the immense joy of being able to encourage other young artists. One of my proudest accomplishments is the “FinCo Art Workshop” that I helped to establish in Nassau through the Finance Corporation of the Bahamas. This annual workshop has exposed hundreds of young persons to the joys of artistic expression and also turned out a stream of professional artists.

All of this I owe to my relationship with my God Jehovah. My art attempts to capture the beauty of His creation, and my music and cartoons incorporate the lessons for life that He reveals in His word the Bible.

I thank Jehovah always for the creative gifts He has given me and the opportunity I have to share them with so many people from all walks of life."

Eddie Minnis (see full bio)

“Over the years my work has been greatly influenced by living on a number of the family islands of the Bahamas - especially the summers I spent on Exuma as a child.  It helped me develop an appreciation for the simple uncomplicated life, which I often try to depict in my paintings.

When my maternal grandparents first got married they lived on the island of Acklins. A few years ago, I had the privilege of living on Acklins for a few months with Wilbert and Lerlene Cox. Living with them I got to see first hand what life was like for my grandparents.

They taught me many things including how to pick top for making straw baskets, collect firewood, fry fish over an open fire and bake ‘Dokie’ (flour cakes) in an outside kitchen. The piece entitled “Miss Lerlene” was inspired by this trip.

I hope that viewers will be able to connect with my paintings and that it will inspire more persons to taste the peace and tranquility that I so love about our family of islands.”

Nicole S. Minnis-Ferguson (see full Bio)

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by art. Although I come from a family of artists, each of us has a different style that reveals aspects of our personality.

My medium of choice is pastels. I find it gives me the most freedom of expression. I completed my first piece of art in soft pastels when I was in grade four, and when I started painting seriously for art competitions at age 14 I used oil pastels. Even in my oil paintings the blending techniques I use in pastel come through.

My work has been described as a sort of ‘romantic realism’. I don’t sing like my father, but I do love to write poetry. In my paintings I attempt to capture a mood that leaves the viewer with a serene feeling. I believe that’s why I have a love for the effect produced by reflections on our Bahamian waters, and the shades of emotion in the human face and figure.

I feel that art is a gift from God; it is a gift that we cannot hide, but that we have to express and share.”

Roshanne Minnis-Eyma (see full Bio)