Which Virgin Island are you from?
I am from St. John. My mother was St. Johannian and Father was Cruzan. I actually attended the Julius Sprauve School in St. John (Kindergarten), TuTu School (5th Grade), and Antilles School (6-10th grade). Following that I bounced between New York and the Virgin Islands, sometimes living with my mother and sometimes with my father.
How long have you been living in NYC?
Most recently 10 years. Before that I lived in Berkeley, California for 15 years. Before California I lived in St. John.
How did you get into art?
I was always artistic. I had friends who noticed and enjoyed me to pursue painting. I enjoy abstract painting, folk art, colour field paintings, graffiti, and cartoons. Many of my paintings were created using a Japanese fish printing method called Gyotaku. I strayed from the method by outlining many of them to synthesize printing and drawing.
How did you come up with your boutique?
I came up with my boutique to take my art from the arena of art exhibits or an art scene to make it a normal everyday functional thing the way African art was not seen as art originally. It had a function.
My Caribbean, my art needs to express who I am culturally. The Boutique celebrates art and culture. It’s very disappointing to me that who I am as a Virgin Islands is so hidden. Most people are familiar with Jamaica and other islands like the Bahamas but know little about the Virgin Islands. People should be more familiar with the Virgin Islands because it is part of the United States. For me globalization shouldn’t just go in one direction with islanders absorbing everything from the mainland. Our culture needs to be respected and celebrated as well in the states. For me, it’s not only our beaches and views, but our language, food, music and folktales that the world needs to associate with the Virgin Islands.
I am waiting for the day that the world Fungi is used interchangeably with the word polenta, or for there to be a demand for people to learn to speak like Virgin Islanders or a demand for Quadrille lessons. Before there was rap we had calypso. Young people can embrace both as a means of self-expression. Would love to see Calypso workshops in Harlem for young people.
We are amazing, absolutely amazing and I intend to let the world know just how interesting we are via images on objects.