Grand Bahamian artist Claudette Dean with one of her pieces from Inner Sanctum.
By: Susan Moir Mackay, Honors B.A.

This collection of paintings and poems depict the delicate relationship between the artist’s inner and outer world: The outer world as exposed by the personal introspective pieces, Inward Journey and Wings — intimate self portraits that reveal a passionate vulnerability, which contrast with her portrayal of an inner world using the universal metaphoric images of the lotus as an archetype of enlightenment and the feminine.

Inner Sanctum by Claudette Dean

The beautiful style of the self portraits belies the fact they are acutely personal. There is realism to the emotion and a rooted longing that brings them to the cusp of raw, while a depiction of sensitivity and strength brings a warmth and compassion to the work.

The title of the show, Inner Sanctum, gives us a hint that the paintings of the lotus flowers have a profound symbolism and connection to the self portraits. The lotus flower, in this context, clearly represents the inner world—a hope for an internal flowering, awakening. However the work is not trite, as past the realism of the images, there is a timbre, a sonorousness that becomes compelling. It takes time to allow the full wealth of these paintings to seep into the mind where they linger and resonate.


There is luminosity to Dean's renderings of the lotus, a depth that is beyond the imagery. Considering the lotus is used for meditation, Dean also allows the flower to reveal its layers of meaning. She creates a subtle personification of nature, which allows the essential nature and forms of the flower to become almost an abstraction. There is also a deep sense of joy and playfulness that skips through all the paintings of the lotus.

The exhibition as a complete set of work offers us an insight to the relationship between substance and fey, between life and death. It gives us hope and reminds us, by the archetypal image of the lotus, that we all have within us—an Inner Sanctum, a bud waiting to joyfully burst forth with life and wisdom.

Claudette Dean