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Jackson Burnside

Life can change in an instant as it did for the great cultural icon, architect and artist, Jackson Burnside and his beloved family.

How fortunate I am to have spent several hours at the Waste exhibition, just a few short weeks before his death, talking and laughing with the great Jackson Burnside not to mention actually exhibiting with him! A conversation we had on the front porch remains vivid in my mind; Jackson was recalling Nelson Mandela’s visit to the Bahamas and a discussion arose around the famous quote often attributed to Nelson Mandela:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Avenging Angel by Antonius Roberts, Waste Exhibition, April, 2011

Avenging Angel by Antonius Roberts, Waste Exhibition, April, 2011

He went on to mention that the quote was actually written by Marianne Williamson, a white woman, and used by Nelson Mandela, a fact that I was not aware of until then. I remember responding with a comment about the perfection of that scenario especially in the context of unity and of sharing our light, he agreed...

I now reflect upon the perfection of this particular conversation between myself, a transplanted white Canadian born woman artist, and this great black Bahamian cultural icon who had so graciously and warmly accepted and welcomed me into the fold...

Jackson certainly did not shrink so that other people would not feel insecure around him, on the contrary, he stood tall and proud and encouraged all of us, especially his fellow Bahamians to do the same.

Thank-you and God bless you Jackson for shining your light. You made manifest the glory of God within you and you inspire all of us to do the same. My spirit thanks you for the last perfect conversation we had together, I will tuck it away in my heart’s treasure chest of beautiful moments.

Claudette Dean