TORN DOWN: Local artist claims mural was removed because it was deemed “racist”

TORN DOWN: Local artist claims mural was removed because it was deemed “racist”
Mural entitled "Mismanaged Culture" by Grand Bahamian artist Benjamin Ferguson.

Artist “hurt” that no one consulted him before removing his work

“We cannot cling to the notion of ‘foreign is better’ and pass it down through our culture”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A Bahamian artist on Grand Bahama said his mural was taken down without his knowledge because it was deemed “racist”.

The mural, entitled “Mismanaged Culture”, is part of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ (NAGB) onePULSE exhibition, which features artwork by Bahamian muralists as the central pulse of Bahamian society.

The murals were being featured at the gallery and have now moved into communities throughout The Bahamas.

Grand Bahama-based artist Benjamin Ferguson said he was shocked when, days after putting up his mural at Taino Beach, it was removed without his consultation.

Benjamin Ferguson.

In a video circulated on social media, Ferguson said he received permission to put the mural up but was later told by officials that there were complaints about the piece.

“All I wanted was to have a conversation before they take it down,” he said.

“It wasn’t a correct racial piece, but it was about trying to get us as Bahamians to realize that we cannot cling to the notion of ‘foreign is better’ and pass it down through our culture.”

He claimed he spoke to a representative from the Freeport City Council to have a virtual conversation, along with representatives from the NAGB and those who were reportedly complaining about the work.

“They just wanted to tear it down,” Ferguson added.

“Everybody formed their own opinions and this is what it is. It’s gone. They did not contact me. No one said: ‘Your work is down. Can you please come to collect it?’

“My painting, my work, my contribution to The Bahamas is not here. It has been torn down.”

Ferguson noted that while he was hurt by the way the issue was handled, he did not expect that officials would not speak to him.

“No one had a conversation with me. It’s done. I’m just a regular Bahamian dred.”

Other artists in the onePULSE exhibition include Amaani Hepburn, June Collie, Jodi Minnis, Lemero Wright, Matthew Rahming and Alisa Streather-Robinson.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.


Imagine if a white person had painted a similar pic, except in reverse. Would it be considered racist?

The children and youth and adult male are being push down look down upon to much have respect for that painter bey stop from beating down our people bey THIS Bahamas is not for Bahamians bey only time the power care is every 4. To5years VOTE FOR ME

Did they give an explanation as to why it was interpreted as ‘racist’ ? Surely the purpose of ‘art’ is to be thought provoking and hopefully lead to discussion . An artist is considered successful when the mores and views of a society are captured and reflected in their art . So why try to silence this artist merely because you do not agree with his statement ? If others had taken this view , we would not be able appreciated some of the great pieces of art , worth millions, that were considered ‘controversial’ at time it was released.
I think that the public deserves a detailed explanation or it could be perceived as ‘ censorship’

One thing about white people if they see a hint of aggression that brings up what their ancestors did and what they are currently doing to our people, they will call it racist instead of hearing why or how its affecting everyone. It’s almost like they don’t want to have the conversation they can’t handle.

If there is one form by which we should be able to express ourselves it is through art. Art should provoke conversation. We can’t continue to hide from these conversations because they may be difficult or make people feel uncomfortable. Freedom of expression. Why was it considered racist?

The Bahamas government need to stand up for its people and stop allowing foreigners to dictate what we can and cannot do in our own country. When visitors come here, they are here to experience Bahamian culture. We allow foreigners to get away with treating us poorly and talk to us any way they like and we, because this is a tourist industry, take it. We need to stand up for each other. The American culture and all this talk on racism is beginning to show its ugly head in the Bahamas and we need to watch out for it and stop it before it goes any further. This is our country, we live here, they are visiting and going back home. If they don’t like the painting and think it’s racist, that’s their opinion and if they feel that strongly about it, speak to the artist and get his perspective on why he painted it. Man, this makes me so angry! Foreign investors have too much say when it comes to our people and our culture, l don’t care how much money they are investing.

Ur choice of words may be accurate. “Bevinning to show its ugly head”. Maybe it is more open now. But my dear it has been going on for yearrrs. Bahamians make fun of potcakes when we are thd potcakes in our own country. Self hatred embedded in us, and slave mindset is what the government and foreignersbeen thriving off here forever. Foreigners Nd white ppl have all the land near the beaches,now its private property and value on the area go up to keep average bahamians out. Big yachts big boats and they abuse our fisheries,with they over excessive hauls, and lawless n carefree. They dont get charge when they commit crimes ,the same crimes that got Bahmians in jail waitjng on trial. Go to any business here Nd see how nasty and miserable thd attitude is just to serve u some decent customer service and then stick around and see how that same person light up and glowup with a warm personality when a white/foreign national customer come in. Thats just a sample i could go on all day. Dont confuse my experience and observations with hate or envy its reality. I live in this system i got plenty to tell ya bout it if you dont know or think i being farfetched.

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