Dr Daniela Fifi believes that the art and artifacts one experiences in a museum collections can help frame difficult conversations about cultural and social inequity and help people shape what is happening around them.
The TT-born art educator and museum curator is now the chief curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB).
Fifi was the curatorial specialist at TT’s National Museum and Art Gallery and the secretariat at the Museum Association of the Caribbean. She is a graduate of Teacher’s College, Columbia University, where she obtained her doctorate in art and art education. She also holds a bachelors in fine art from the Pratt Institute, New York, and an MA in art gallery and museum studies from the University of Manchester, UK.
In a media release announcing her appointment, Fifi was quoted as saying, “With civil unrest and tensions rising across the globe, museums are so important now. Museums are positioned to facilitate global conversations and are champions of culture. Discussions of cultural and social inequity can no longer be passed over. The art and artifacts that we encounter in museums collections can facilitate these difficult conversations and help us frame how we are responding to what is happening around us. In this way art exhibitions have transformative power, I believe, and have an extremely valuable societal role.”
The release added that Fifi will be in charge of curatorial programming at the gallery and “her perspective of curatorial work and museums is centered on the museum as an educational space with the ability to positively impact its community.”
The gallery’s governance committee, board and executive team, in expressing confidence in Fifi's skillset, said as the gallery moves from adolescence into maturity, Fifi’s knowledge and expertise in Caribbean art and collection care will build its curatorial department further. This will also assist the Bahamas in expanding its knowledge around museum work specifically around visual arts in a Caribbean environment, the release said.
One of the first projects Fifi will oversee is an exhibition called Pulse, curated by the gallery’s associate curator Richardo Barrett. Pulse will be a three-part exhibition focusing on Bahamas’ public arts beginning on September 17.
The first part will focus on mural painting with eight participating Bahamian artists: Allan Wallace, Angelica Wallace Whitfield, Amaani Hepburn, June Collie, Domonique Delancy Jacobs, Jodi Minnis, Lemero Wright and Jolyon Smith.
The exhibition will also include “living participatory” shows with two mural artists creating live murals in the museum’s space with online intervention from the public and streamed on the museum’s website.
The Bahamian public will then be asked to participate by completing the mural. “The topic of the mural will surround the idea of crisis and the role that public art plays during crisis,” the release said.
The next part will be a sculpture garden show featuring ten sculptures along with virtual tours, music playlists and PDF activities to ensure the show is covid19 friendly for visitors.
The third part of the exhibition will take place in November and will take the form of a live-in residency for seven artists over three months. The artists will create six murals using local materials. This will open in November and be also available for viewing online. The murals will then tour throughout the Bahamas at the exhibition’s close to offer as many members of the public as possible the chance to share the experience.
For Fifi, public art in its various forms create awareness, encouragement, education and self-expression.
“Historically, it has also been a platform for the voiceless. During this time, it can serve as a beacon of hope and an anchor for a society riddled with anxiety and uncertainty about the future.
“As we in the Bahamas and the Caribbean move into a new way of living and seeing the world around us, art encourages us to continue to engage with each other and community. Pulse centres around public art that is freely accessible and allows for a reflective pause amid the everyday, which we think is essential,” she said.