TO AUG. 11

Find any shell on the beach, hold it up to your ear, and it will speak to you. But a conch shell, with its big belly and majestic shield, can chat you up for days. Bahamian artist Richard Brent Malone was probably thinking about this when he painted Black Pearl (pictured). Floating in a sea of blue, a pink-and-brown conch spreads itself through most of the canvas. From inside the shell grows a black, yellow, and pink head. Its large red eye looks out into the distance; its full lips seem ready to say something. The story of Bahamian culture that aches to spill from those lips is one so rich and convoluted that Malone had to join five other artists from his country to tell it. In 1991, the Bahamian Creative Artists United for Serious Expression (B-CAUSE), fed up with the picture-postcard style of artwork that had dominated the island since the days of colonialism, decided to create a visual language that more accurately and compellingly expressed their culture. The 17 artists now displaying their works in “On the Edge of Time: Contemporary Art From the Bahamas”—some of them former members of the now disbanded B-CAUSE—have indeed expressed themselves seriously. Their work ranges from straightforward depictions of the Bahamian landscape to complex explorations of national identity and spirituality. As B-CAUSE co-founder Antonious Roberts says, “[I]t is through art that the human being is best able to understand himself, the universe, and his place in the world.” On view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, to Friday, Aug. 11, at the Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center, 1300 New York Ave. NW. Free. (202) 623-3774. (Ayesha Morris)

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