With support from the V.I. Council on the Arts, The Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) has announced its upcoming artist-in-residence Kendal Henry will be on St. Croix for his third visit to engage the community around the issue of revitalization and the power of art to transform culture, The St. Croix Source reports. Henry is one of the world’s leading public art consultants; he currently manages New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program.
During CMCArts’ Second Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, he will give a talk on public art and introduce the collaborative project “Invisible Heritage: Identity Memory and Our Towns,” which he is working on with local curator Monica Marin. This project asks artists and writers to approach the topic critically by bringing to light some of the histories that have been made invisible or marginalized.
Artists will draw inspiration from the rich African Diasporic vernacular traditions of the Virgin Islands as seen in the built heritage, music (quelbe, cariso), dance (bamboulah), storytelling and other art forms. This project will culminate in a show at CMCArts on April 20 as part of the Literary Festival.
Henry will meet with local artists, policy makers and Sen. Jackson at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, at CMCArts to offer his expertise on a bill that Sen. Myron D. Jackson has drafted to enact a one percent art fund, locally. That evening from 5:30-7:30 at CMCArts, Clean Sweep of Frederiksted will host a night of living stories where presenters Wayne “Bully” Petersen and Eugene “Doc” Petersen will tell stories in the Anansi tradition, and a panel of elders will share their personal accounts of growing up in Frederiksted.
The following day, from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 13, Frandelle Gerard (of CHANT) will lead a walking tour of Frederiksted that highlights the historic “Free Gut” community and the families and business that were located there. Historian George Tyson will also share insight that he has compiled from the St. Croix African Roots Database that documents the stories of the families from St. Croix living during the period of Danish rule (1734-1917). These oral histories as well as archival material will provide the back bone for this community project.
During his week-long residency Henry will meet with University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and Good Hope Country Day School students to share his latest work from around the world. He will also conduct studio visits with artists La Vaughn Belle, Gerville Larsen, Mike Walsh and others who are creating work as part of the project.
“Art has the power to transform culture – it can change neighborhoods and people,” said Henry. He is a Crucian native, who left the island in 1985 after graduating from John H. Woodson Junior High school. He is an artist and curator specializing in public art for over 25 years.
He illustrates that public art can be used as a tool for social engagement, civic pride and economic development through the projects and programs he has initiated in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Caribbean.
Henry believes that the most successful public artworks start with the question, “What is the artwork to achieve?” and takes into account the audience and surrounding environment in the creation of that artwork. Henry is currently the Director of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
The Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts is located at 10 Strand Street, Frederiksted, St. Croix.
Thursday, Feb. 11, at 5:30-7 p.m. — Kendal presents at CMCArts 2nd Thursday
Friday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to noon — Meeting with Sen. Myron Jackson to discuss Percent for Art Bill
5:30-8 p.m. — “Folktales and Tales from Folks” event with Clean Sweep Frederiksted at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts
Saturday, Feb 13, from 3-5 p.m. — Walking Tour of Free Gut in Frederiksted with Frandelle Gerard and George Tyson (starting point at CHANT office)
Tuesday, Feb 16, from 9:30-10:45 a.m. — Public Art Talk at UVI Little Theatre (Room 401)
11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. — Lunch at UVI
1:20-2:10 p.m. — Public Art Talk at Good Hope Country Day School
Wednesday, Feb 17 — Studio Visits: Gerville Larsen, La Vaughn Belle, Mike Walsh
Thursday, Feb 18, from 5:30-8 p.m. — Art Thursday in Christiansted