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Maxine Schur

Caribbean connection
Faith and Fun
The Exuberant Paintings of Amos Ferguson

The pictures of Bahamian Amos Ferguson shine with the ordinary house paint he uses to portray his own deep Baptist faith, animal symbolism and private myth. I had first discovered Amos Ferguson's work through the illustrations he did for the children's book, Under the Sunday Tree (Harper and Row 1988) . I was charmed by his brilliant colors and naive yet witty interpretation of the world. One of fourteen children, Amos Ferguson was born on the island of Exuma and came to Nassau as a young man to become a house painter. But soon images came to him first "as stars" and then and as complete as phototographs in his mind's eye. Today he's achieved international success as The Bahamian who uses housepaint to portray ordinary and fantasy Bahamian scenes with what gallery owner, Ute Stebich calles his "generous and smiling attitude toward life." I wanted to meet Amos Ferguson so I called him to ask whether I could interview him. His wife Bea answered and welcomed me, "You come this side by the Grace of God; your feet will be guided!" The next week I flew to Nassau on New Providence Island in The Bahamas.

Amos Ferguson signs all his paintings with the word PAINT. In Nassau, I visited "PAINT," the astonishing permanent collection of Amos Ferguson's paintings upstairs in the Pompey Museum then I made my way to his simple wood house on Nassau Street.

I took ginger beer with Amos and Bea Ferguson and sitting in their tiny front room surrounded by his paintings is like sitting in a garden. Amos Ferguson's paintings depict the charm of tropical life. His exuberant scenes invited me to go fishing, turtle hunting and picnicking on the beach --- to become witness to a world in which not only color, but life itself is joyously intensified. "My husband studies the world like he's studying the Bible," Bea told me, but Amos preferred to put it this way:

"God creates beautiness; I just paint it!" Amos Ferguson's profound Baptist faith and the exuberant abandon of the Bahamian celebration of Junkanoo suffuse his work with joy, with love and with "beautiness."

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Articles from the Caribbean
  Dionisio Blanco
  Candido Bido
  Sharon Wilson
  Dennis Valentine
  Don Dahlke
  Maria Henle
  Amos Ferguson
  Paradise on Earth
  Cristina Emmanuel
  Omeilia Marshall
  Giving the Devil His Due
  Euphoria in Eleuthera






Here come da Bride
King and Quwen in the Jungle
by Amos Ferguson



©Maxine Rose Schur 2015. Reproducing or copying photos and articles is strictly prohibited unless expressly granted by the owner. All photos are by the author unless specified.


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