An interview with Exnihilo resident Alistair Stevenson

Alistair at workIn July 2015, Exnihilo Art Center partnered with the College of the Bahamas to extend its first arts residency invitation to Ceramicist, Alistair Stevenson The program awards Mr Stevenson time, unlimited studio space and supplies for a period of one month.

During his residency Mr. Stevenson produced a body of work for exhibition along with giving a public talk.

Originally from Long Island, Bahamas, Alistair Stevenson obtained an Associates of Arts degree in the Visual Arts program from C.O.B. in 2012 and completed a six-week summer course in China. Subsequently, he was awarded a full scholarship from the Chinese government to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Ceramic Art at Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute. The Jingdezhen Province, having fifteen (1,500) hundred years of history in ceramics, is famous for producing ninety (90) percent of the world's blue and white porcelain. Alistair has been a active member in the local arts community. Most recently, he has been a curator at The D'Aguilar Foundation.

Exnihilo partner Katrina Cartwright recently spoke with Alistair about his experience as the first Exnihilo artist in residence in The Bahamas.

Katrina: What inspired you to choose a career in ceramics and subsequently continue those studies in China?

Alistair: Initially, I was taught to create artwork on two-dimensional surfaces, however, even then impasto paintings were created showing a need to pull subjects from flat surface to a more three-dimensional state. As a result, I decided that with a material as malleable, temperamental and charismatic as clay, ceramics would be the ideal vessel needed to construct manifestations of art.

Initially, I spent five years studying Ceramic Art in New Providence, Bahamas. During this period, I realised there was only so much about I could learn in my country which was not enough to satisfy an innate desire to study more about what could be done with the slippery substance of clay. Thereafter, I decided that an ideal place to pursue said studies would be the ancient porcelain capital of China, Jingdezhen City. It is a place that withholds vastly what the field of ceramics holds.

Katrina: How has that experience shaped your career aspirations and personal development thus far?

Alistair: Immensely.

Katrina: How did you find out about the Exnihilo Bahamian Artist-in-Residence program?

Alistair: I found out about this program via invitation. Bahamas-based Exnihilo partners Katrina Cartwright and Michael Edwards offered me the opportunity to participate as the first Exnihilo Artist in Residence in The Bahamas.

Katrina: You created a body of work during the residency. What were the dominant themes in the work? What was the inspiration for those themes?

Alistair: Themes for this body of work are influenced by Bahamian Mythological creature Lusca as well as influences from the Chinese myth of the dragon chasing the pearl.

Katrina: Tell us about your experience as an Exnihilo Artist-in-Residence. Did the residency and accompanying artist talk have a positive impact on your practice?

Alistair: As an ExNihilo Artist-in-Residence, I found Edwards and Cartwright's assistance constant and timely. For every need, they were willing to assist which made my creative process truly comfortable and smooth.

The accompanying artist talk proved quite successful. I was able to get the attention of several important members of our Bahamian Art community as well as other interested viewers. Thus, the artist talk acted as another platform to discuss more thoroughly my exploration of Bahamian mythology

Katrina: Would you work Exnihilo on future projects?

Alistair: Absolutely! The assistance, care and respect was all there. I know ExNihilo will definitely continue to grow and evolve in that way.


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