A new art center was unveiled Thursday by The Arteneers, the art club at the University of the Virgin Islands’ St. Croix campus, to promote and develop the arts department.
Cynthia Hatfield, UVI art professor and event organizer, said the department has been trying to get a workspace with sinks for about five years, a site they were finally able to secure thanks to support from the science department and the university administration.
“There are lots of people who support the arts in UVI and I am grateful for that,” Hatfield said during the center’s opening Thursday.
The new space located in Room 208 in the Evans Center is called the “Art Academy,” according to Simon Jones-Hendrickson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The Art Academy was decorated for the opening with student art — from dyed cloths to paintings and drawings. Even the food prepared for the celebration was displayed as a work of art.
Alex Randall, chairman of the Communications, Arts and Theatre Department, said the Art Academy is a reality because of Hatfield’s drive and focused goals.
Randall said Hatfield has pushed to improve the arts department throughout her time at UVI.
“She had a vision and, because she had a vision, she could describe her goal. Because she could describe her goal and she persisted towards that goal, she could get us to somewhere we didn’t know we were going,” Randall said.
According to Hendrickson, it doesn’t stop at just the art space. He spoke of a music academy as well as theatre and dance classes.
“This is a significant moment moving forward for the St. Croix campus and, while funds are scarce, we will continue to do our best,” Hendrickson said.
Randall said the workspace showed that the university was committing itself to the arts and that it was not just another subject on the sidelines. “This is an art room. It was a science room. That’s special and it doesn’t happen unless the upward administration is behind it,” he said.
“This is as big a deal for us as the RTPark at the end of the road.”
The art space wasn’t the only addition for the arts at the university. According to Randall, the communication paradigm now includes the visual arts as one of the tracks students can specialize in. He said they have also organized a minor in fine arts so that students can study business and earn a minor in the fine arts with drawing, creative writing and visual arts included in the minor.
Art club president Sarah Sinanan said she hopes to bring joy to the community and bring people together through the arts.
Sinanan and art club vice president Hector Aloyo were presented with awards for their dedication and passion to the arts. Sinanan received a koi fish painting from Hatfield and Aloyo received a $500 art scholarship from the Artists Guild of St. Croix, along with an invitation to present one of his artworks in their upcoming art show.
The presentation concluded with prize giveaways, refreshments and temporary marker tattoos.