By Anita Malhotra
Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamian artist Maxwell Taylor trained as a ceramicist while in his teens and held his first solo exhibit as a painter in the early ‘60s. In 1968 he moved to New York, where he studied at the Art Students League, the Pratt Graphic Center and the Printmaking Workshop. There, he made a name for himself with striking woodcuts, prints and paintings that focused on the struggles of the disadvantaged, particularly women.
His works were featured at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico and have been exhibited extensively in the United States, the Caribbean and in South and Central America. His awards have included the Southern Arts Federation Fellowship Award.
Taylor divides his time between West Palm Beach, Florida, where he has a ceramics studio, and Nassau. Anita Malhotra spoke with him on October 8, 2014 at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.
AM: What was your childhood like growing up in the Bahamas?
MT: I grew up without a father. My mother was instrumental in bringing up me and my sister. She had four kids. She was a seamstress so she would get up in the morning round about seven, eight o’clock, and the first thing she would do she’d go down to the shop. I used to hit the streets – just went from one neighborhood to the next neighborhood. And then at a very early age I had to work. I didn’t have anybody to give me anything. I used to do things like shoeshine, you know, and I had a job taking care of a horse.
AM: What got you started in art?
MT: What really got me started was Chelsea Pottery. I always had the ability to draw, but during that period in the Bahamas, there weren’t too many artists. I was working as a bar-boy at the Emerald Beach Hotel and somebody told me about the Chelsea Pottery, which had just opened up and they were looking for young artists.
I was laid off from my job at the hotel and I went and I met Mr. Rawnsley. He checked to see what sort of talent I had and he saw that I could draw. They didn’t pay me right away, but I learned the technique pretty fast, so they put me on piecework. They would pay me for every piece I did that was of some sort of quality. I started getting a salary, and I met Brent Malone, Kendal Hanna, Vernon Cambridge and a lot of young artists. And that’s when I became serious about my art. Continue reading