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Baja El Sol " 100 Years of Exhibit"

During late April, St. Croix Educational Complex High School art students enjoyed the fruits of their creativity during a Virgin Islands Centennial-themed art exchange excursion to St. John. Twelve National Art Honor Society and SCEC Art Club students traveled along with SCECHS Visual Arts educator Danica David, and four parent chaperones. Before traveling, the group sold many Virgin Islands Cultural Contributors Calendars to raise monies for the trip. The Virgin Islands Cultural Contributors Calendar Project is a collaborative project devised during fall 2017 by Ms. David and fellow St. Croix Educational Complex Drama and Speech educator Sayeeda Carter. Ms. David’s students created artwork, while Ms. Carter’s students interviewed and wrote biographies about the selected participants. The calendar project is an interactive learning experience for SCECHS students and participants in the community who are actively contributing to Virgin Islands culture.

Several months before the calendar project began, Priscilla Hintz Rivera Knight and husband David Knight Jr. the owners of Baja El Sol Gallery invited Ms. David and St. Croix Educational Complex art students to display artwork in their 100 Years Of... A Centennial Transfer Reflection Exhibition. The Knights are actively involved in developing the arts on St. John and St. Thomas. Their gallery Baja El Sol Gallery is located in Mongoose Junction, Cruz Bay.

The exhibition opened to the public on April 7. However, due to important school-related projects, Ms. David and the art students were not able to travel until late April. When the SCECHS group arrived at the Baja El Sol Gallery they all were in awe of the artistic representations in the 100 Years Of... A Centennial Transfer Reflection Exhibition. “I was amazed at all the ways various artists interpreted the theme,“ Tyrone Reed a ninth grader stated. The Knights vision for the show was for participating artists to emulate the nuances of U.S. Virgin Islanders’ sense of identity and history after the transfer from Danish to American occupation.

Several SCECHS National Art Honor Society students along with Ms. David created acrylic, mixed media, or assemblage paintings. Shania Joseph created an acrylic painting of the St. Croix’s Fort Frederik with two moko jumbies dancing. Her art depicts the expressive cultural freedom that Virgin islanders experience today. Aisha Roberts' mixed media painting included images of the St. Croix Government house with the Danish, the American, and the Virgin Islands flags juxtaposed in three equal parts behind the building. Her artwork showcase the VI people’s substantial dependence on the government. Naeem Sealey's acrylic painting depicts a carnival masquerader with the Virgin Islands flag. Naeem stated, "My artwork is about the fun and playful side of Virgin Islands culture today”.

Bianca Alexis and Yolinette Velazquez also created acrylic paintings. Both of their paintings reflect the harsh reality of slavery under Danish occupation and celebrate the freedom that Virgin Islanders experience under the modern-day American rule. Ms. David created an assemblage triptych series. Her paintings depict the resiliency of African slaves who are the ancestors of many Virgin Islanders today. She incorporated images of African slaves tightly positioned on a slave ship as the first layer on board panels. Then she attached a smaller-sized linen canvas in the center of each panel. On the linen canvases, Ms. David portrayed the Danish flag, the American flag, and the Virgin Islands flag. Each flag incorporates touches of African fabric. The other students traveling also created artwork before traveling for various art- related projects and exhibitions. Jahmoi Benjamin, Niesha Bennett, Ernie Bodley Jr., Sanay Hewitt, Sherville Huggins Jr., and Tyrone Reed created artwork for the 2018 VI Cultural Contributors Calendar Project. Zaquira Carti and Kyanna Torrens created artwork for the VI Congressional Art Award competition.

In addition, the St. Croix Educational Complex students spent two days on the island of St. John partaking in art–focused and historical education activities. They attended Julius Sprauve School Industrial Art educator, Kurt Marsh Jr.'s class. Mr. Marsh demonstrated how to transform a mahogany slab into a bowl on a lathe. SCECHS students were actively engaged. Zaquira Carti, a seniors said "Mr. Marsh sparked my interest in industrial arts. I would love to learn more about it when I go to college.” Mr. Marsh is the great-nephew of world-renowned artist and wood turner Avelino Samuel. Mr. Marsh is a second generation artist and wood turner. At Gifft Hill High School, the group participated in other art-educational activities. They joined the school’s art educator, Ms. Rosemary Richards’ class. Ms. Richards taught the SCECHS students how to create Japanese inspired Sumi-e paintings and how to create ceramic bowls using the hump clay sculpting technique. The National Art Honor Society and SCEC Art Club students also toured the campus and visited the social studies, yearbook, culinary arts, and drama classrooms.

After visiting the Gifft Hill School, they toured Cinnamon Bay Beach Virgin Islands National Park’s archaeological museum. The Knights graciously organized the various educational activities. This was the second invitation that SCECHS received from Priscilla Hintz Rivera Knight. Last year they participated in the Caribbean Colour exhibition at Yacht Haven, St. Thomas. For the past two years, SCECHS the National Art Honor Society and SCEC Art Club students have traveled and participated in art exchange activities within the Virgin Islands’ territory. “I really want to broaden students’ artistic perspective by traveling to other amazing countries every year,” Ms. David stated.

Exhibition Invitation

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