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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Island Expressions: Annie Caswell

Annie Caswell in her studio.St. John artist Annie Caswell’s talent runs the gamut from painting to sculpture to the creation of spirit dolls and much more.

"I’m one of those artists who can’t focus on one thing," Caswell said.

Currently, she’s making clay pendants for necklaces at her studio outside Coral Bay. She hand carves the molds and, after creating the pendants, presses in natural materials like sea fans and shells to give the pendants texture.

"Every piece I make is unique," she said.

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When she gets tired of that process, she said she’ll clear the clay pendant materials out of her studio and move on to something else.

She also needs to get moving on building her stock of acrylic and watercolor paintings for a show she has lined up in Bristol, Vt.

While Caswell, 46, is best known as an artist, she also creates and puts on workshops where people learn how to make their own spirit dolls.

"I do the workshops for empowerment," she said.

At those workshops, she uses found materials like leather left over from manufacturing at a friend’s leather shop, wire she found at her house and wood she happens upon.

"Everything is recycled or reused. I hate waste and try to use it all," she said.

Like most St. John artists, Caswell is inspired by the island’s beauty and culture.

"And I’m not in a busy city so I have more time to create," she said.

And there’s no snow to deal with like she’d find in her native Burlington, Vt. After leaving Vermont, Caswell adopted a nomadic life. She sailed to Europe, where she taught herself to speak French, traveled extensively, and lived in various locations around the United States. After attending several colleges she eventually got a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Burlington College.

She studied photography and still works in that medium. However, Caswell said she taught herself to paint and sculpt.

Her works are for sale on St. John at Friends of V.I. National Park store, St. John Spice, Colorful Corner, Jolly Dog, Awl Made Here, Tall Ship Trading, and on Jost Van Dyke at the Soggy Dollar Bar.

She sailed into St. John more than five years ago and soon settled into the Coral Bay community.

"It’s like a big summer camp, and you know people," she said of the eclectic variety of residents who call the area home.

She and her partner, Larry Reagan, still go sailing, but she makes time for snorkeling, hiking, yoga, cooking, and tending her garden.

"Arugula, bok choy, tomatoes. I experiment with stuff all the time," she said, ticking off a long list of things she’s growing behind her house.

Readers can see Caswell’s works at www.anniecaswell.com and contact her at aginevra@yahhoo.com.

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