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Congressional Art Competition: 41st Annual on Exhibit at CMCArts

Office of Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett and the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts were the hosts for the 41st Annual Congressional Art Competition at Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts Thursday afternoon.

The reception at the museum in downtown Frederiksted brought attendees to the newly created gallery space on its main floor to view 15 entries in the 2023 exhibit.

Students across the territory were invited to compete in the visual arts competition using the mediums of their choice and their own interpretation of a theme.

Suenita Banwaree & Dylan Henderson, Danica David & Zany Ja Rodriquez (Photo by Elisa McKay)

St.Croix Central High School, St. Croix Educational Complex High School, Good Hope Country Day School on St.Croix, and Peter Gruber International Academy on St.Thomas participated.

Congressional Staffer LaVerne Joseph opened the reception, giving thanks to the audience for their presence. She commended the art teachers for their hard work in pushing their students so that [we] can continue to have a high caliber of artwork for the Congressional Art Competition.

“We want to be better than the other states – Texas, Arizona, New York, and those other places,” she said. “When you [teachers] feel they have that art in them, push them so that we can also shine when we go to DC. When they put the artwork in the corridor, everyone who passes through the tunnel will see St.Croix.”

“Now we are on the map,” Joseph said. “Everyone knows where St. Croix is because of our Delegate to Congress, Stacey Plaskett,” she added amidst cheers from the audience.

Joseph thanked Executive Director Lisa Mordhorst and Development Director Lavonne Wise for their help in organizing the event at the museum. She gave a “shout out” to VICA with thanks in all ways and for their sponsorship in the past. She made reference to Special Projects Coordinator Kendall Henry on St. Croix and Executive Director Tasida Kelch and her staff on St.Thomas for making this a great competition.

L-R, Lisa Mordhorst, Danica David, Suenita Banwaree, Kandiya Rivera, Tionee Scotland, Lavonne Wise, LaVerne Joseph (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Joseph said she was turning the mantle over to Field Representative Kandiya Rivera to continue with the future competitions.

Rivera gave accolades to CMCArts for offering the gallery space and encouraged the teachers to start “tomorrow” for the next annual competition.

Mordhorst spoke about the honor of having the competition back in “our house.” She encouraged the audience to attend classes at the museum in all art mediums and for all ages – students and adults.

Communications Director Tionee Scotland and Rivera presented the competition’s first and third-place winners, Zany Ja Rodriquez and Dylan Henderson, respectively, with large gift bags of “tokens” on behalf of the office of the Delegate.

Rodriquez is a 10th grader at SCECHS whose art, “Bonded to the Past,” portrayed an enslaved man chained to a sugar mill, moving away from it with the chains broken in several places. It is a digital art creation. Danica David is his art teacher and she spoke of art changing from the traditional to digital and that it is just as time-consuming.

Zany Ja Rodriquez with “Bonded by the Past” (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Henderson is a 10th grader at GHCDS whose inspiration for “That for Which is Incomplete” came from a sculpture she created in her classroom with art teacher Suenita Banwaree. Henderson worked on her piece at home and “had no idea I would win anything in the competition.” She researched the skeletal system for her sculpture and applied it to her visual piece.

Dylan Henderson with “That of which is Incomplete” (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Sy Sebastien is a 12th grader at Peter Gruber International Academy on St. Thomas. “Study of Sebastien” won second place. His art teacher is Sarah Cornette. Although Sebastien did not attend the reception, the Source was told that he has been a student at VIMSPGIA since he began in the toddler program. After graduation, he will major in graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Sy Sebastien (Photo courtesy of Peter Gruber International Academy)
“Study of Sy” (Photo by Elisa McKay)

The 41st Annual Congressional Art Competition exhibit can be seen for at least one week in the main floor gallery at CMCArts.

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