Natalie Willis Whylly (she/her) is a British-Bahamian curator and cultural worker. Born and raised in Grand Bahama, she received her BA (Hons) and MA in Fine Art at York St John University in the UK before returning home. Following her six-year tenure at National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Natalie now works independently as a curator, writer, and art + curatorial consultant. During her time as Associate Curator at the NAGB, she sustained a concerted focus on writing aimed at decolonizing and decentralizing the art archive, adding to the literature on Bahamian and Caribbean visual culture, and developing her curatorial practice. She was responsible for maintaining, documenting, researching and historicizing the National Collection; and planning and installing exhibitions.
As an emerging curator trying to not contribute to the brain-drain of the Caribbean, her practice has a concerted focus on knowledge building and access (through language) and speaking to the way the colonial tourism of the late 1800s shaped the cultural and physical landscape of the Anglo-Caribbean. She was the first curator at the museum to include bilingual wall texts (in English and Haitian Kreyol), the first to have a group show dedicated featuring the work of Black Women artists of The Bahamas, and she co-developed the museum’s inter-island traveling exhibition program (which began as a way to combat the difficulties that the country’s archipelagic geography presents in providing access to cultural patrimony).
Willis has been an invited speaker at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) “Curators in Conversation” series (2020), where she subsequently was selected for the 2021 CCCADI Curatorial Fellowship. She also has also presented at the University of The Bahamas (“The Role of The Curator,” 2020), Tilting Axis Annual Conference (2019), Caribbean Studies Association Conference (2017), and the Museums Association of the Caribbean Annual Conference (2016). She was awarded the Tilting Axis Curatorial Fellowship for 2018.
Somewhere, in a parallel universe, she still makes artwork.