Art Matters – Art is a Portal

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By Lisa Howie, Director, Bermuda National Gallery

In a recently posted Artist Project commentary on The Met’s website, painter Y.Z. Kami says, “a true work of art that comes from a depth does not have a cultural boundary. It’s timeless.” The artwork to which he is referring is Egyptian mummy portrait paintings from over 2,000 years ago. These realistic portraits look like they emerge from the modern era. The works arc across the centuries and meet us in a direct gaze, each evoking a sense of character, a real person living in a real era, however ancient. They are remarkable.

This short online encounter reminds me of the value of the art experience. Tapping into one’s natural inclination for learning- the visual mode- and layering verbal information with layers of visual information makes the experience all the more impactful. In one short minute I have learned about: a place, Faiyum; a cultural tradition of portraits commissioned while living then adhered to the mummy when deceased; the stylistic differences between the portraits; and the timelessness of the medium making the paintings look fresh.

Art is a portal: to different time periods, different places, and different cultures. It can alert us to new information or remind us of things we should never forget. It can be bold and provocative or silent and musing; carry our imaginations away or bring us right up close to a mirror on today¹s world. This, among so many things, is art.

I encourage readers to visit the Bermuda National Gallery for an art experience that will take them visually around the world through various time periods in artistic expression.

Join us for an art tour Thursday mornings at 10:00 am. Take away a memento with a BNG art book. For more information: or call (441) 295-9428

For more information: or call (441) 295-9428/ 297-9428.

  • Phone: 1 (441) 295-9428/ 297-9428.
  • Address: City Hall & Arts Centre, 17 Church Street, Hamilton, Bermuda
  • Email:

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