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HomeNewsArchivesVirgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee Unveils Mural at Florence Williams Library

Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee Unveils Mural at Florence Williams Library

The Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee unveiled Friday a mural above the entrance of the Hispanic Collection at the Florence Williams Public Library. The mural illustrates the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican ties in friendship, culture and literature.

Students from Good Hope Country Day School, the winners of an art competition sponsored by the committee, painted the mural in Christiansted.

Domitila Vargas, chairwoman of the Hispanic Collection committee, said it was an honor for the committee to encourage and stimulate the artistic creativity of local students.

“We feel so proud of our students every time we look at this art,” Vargas said. “This painting gives students a most valued treasure – ownership of a part of our library.” She said students were asked to incorporate this year’s theme (Celebrating our Culture, History and Friendship) while having it pertain to reading, books and the library. She gave out certificates to the art teachers and students that participated.

The students, led by 13-year-old Julian Bishop, collaborated and painted the bright colored mural depicting Fort Christiansvaern on the left and Castle El Morro on the right of the painting. In the center was an open book with a quelbe dancer and a Spanish mask. In the center is a string of books with F-R-I-E-N-D-S-H-I-P on the covers.

Bishop said it was good winning because it was the first thing the art students from the two recently combined private schools worked together on. “Since becoming a new school, it’s our first accomplishment,” Bishop said.

Phyllis Biddle, art teacher at Good Hope Country Day, said the students worked their hearts out doing a lot of research and collaboration.

“There was a lot of team work and it was a real collaborative effort to create this beautiful image,” said Suenita Banwaree, also an art teacher at Good Hope Country Day. “The students spent weeks and even holidays working on this project.”

During the ceremony the committee gave Banwaree a check for $500 for the art department at Good Hope Country Day.

Participating schools included St. Croix Educational Complex, Arthur Richards Junior High School, Manor School and St. Joseph Catholic High School. All of the entries were used in media and promotions for Hispanic Heritage Month and are part of a temporary exhibit at the library.

According to Ingrid Bough, territorial director of Libraries, Archives and Museums, the contest provided an opportunity for children to artistically utilize their talents and have their art showcased.

She said part of the division’s mission is to provide access to and preserve Virgin Islands culture and literary heritage. Bough said the development of the collection throughout the years has been a labor of love. She added it is only the beginning and there is much more to come in the Hispanic Collection.

Zoraida Jacobs, Department of Education assistant to the director of community relations, gave background on the collection.

Jacobs said the original Hispanic Collection that was housed in Estate Slob, where the fire station is located, closed in 1998. She said Vera Falu of the V.I.-P.R. Friendship Committee started the project in 2006, acquiring space in the Florence Williams Public Library for the collection.

In 2007, under the leadership of Jacobs, a dedication took place and, in 2009, the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums acquired Spanish books through the Library of Congress Free Surplus Books Program.

In early 2011, the division ordered 400 Spanish books to supplement the collection, with the review and selection made by the VI-PR Friendship Committee. The committee sponsored a librarian from Puerto Rico to catalog the books. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month 2012, there was a debut of COLECCIÓN HISPANA at the Florence Williams Public Library.

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