Monday, April 22, 2019

Art is Life - From the Classroom to the Silver Screen

The University of the Virgin Islands Department of Communication, Art, Theatre and Music hosted of its first weekend-long Caribbean Film and Artistic Cinematic Festival this month. Theory inside the classroom blossomed onto the stage with two days of best in Caribbean film.

The cultural festival, which ran from April 6-7, featured original films by UVI students and local film enthusiasts. Caribbean artists and filmmakers from the Virgin Islands, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Puerto Rico and Barbados screened their work and hosted presentations.

“Response to this first-time film event was extraordinary, and the film artists were eager to showcase their talents,” says Dr. Sharon Albert Honore, UVI Communication Department chair and festival coordinator. “The festival served as the primary fundraiser for our department and we are extremely grateful to the USVI community, local businesses and festival participants.”

UVI student participants and the other participants were judged separately in various categories. A panel of judges selected the following winners:

Most Creative Feature Film, “Under Her Wings,” Toni Lance, Narrator; Elizabeth Hertzfeldt-Kamprath, filmmaker. Funded by the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and The Neel Foundation.

Best Documentary Short, "Guasabara,” (subtitles) Roberto Lebron and Cristian Carretero, producers

Best Original Feature Film - "Proudly We Serve: VI Veterans of the Korean War," Joan Keenan (producer), Jean Picou (director)

Best Visual Art Film- “Three Baja’s Plastic Bottles,” Carla Bellot (animation producer, Julie McNeal (executive producer), Jehroum Wood (narrator), made possible by Waste O/* Resources Trust

Best in Show Music Video. "Lovely Wedding," Khalil James (producer)

Most Creative, Best Dramatic Short Film, "The Basis of Communication," Stephon Smith, (producer)

Community entry, (short), "Water Sustainability: HBCU Making & Innovative Showcase," sponsored by the National Science Foundation. George Ellis, producer

Best Production, Dramatic Short Film, “Yolanda,” Cristian Carretero, producer/director

Best in show, movie trailers. "Life at Traxco," "Dangers of the Tongue," "The Womanizer", & "The Rats," Raymon Richardson, producer.

“I enjoyed attending the Caribbean Film & Artistic Cinematic Festival, the films were thought-provoking and riveting,” said Robin Jones, Virgin Islands educator. “The festival provided a wide variety of filmmakers from various parts of the Caribbean along with varying perspectives," Jones added.

A group of eight graduating Communication majors were tasked with formatting and creating a film project for their senior seminar course. The final assignments were submitted for the festival competition and included:

“Nigerian Experience” by Techele Evans

“Culture of Dialect” by Nigencia James

“Journey to Moterhood” by Shereene Batiste

“Brotherhood Workshop” by Kristi Geaux

“Morning Glory” by Lanie Jno Batiste

“The Basis of Communication” by Stephon Smith

   “Standards of Beauty” by Kyla Joseph

  “UVI Recruitment by Asia Vetter

The first-place winner, Stephon Smith traveled to STX to receive his award which included a certificate, token of appreciation from Crucian Gold Jewelry and $150 cash prize.

The festival also featured interactive ‘Sip and Paint’ sessions which were conducted by visual artists Don Matthews from Atlanta and Danica David from St. Croix. “The Community’s response to the “Sip and Paint” was great,” Dr. Honore says.

“Several guests paid to come both days and practice their artistic skills. Everyone took home their own artwork and also worked together to create a mini art piece," Honore states.

She further explains, “The colorful designs form a ‘conch puzzle,’ and represent this years’ theme: ‘Sound the Conch: Liberation though Film.’” The unique artwork was painted and signed by each participant.

Another highlight of the festival were panel discussions that included media industry experts such as CBS USVI correspondent Kellie Meyer, commercial artist, Din Matthews, digital marketing executive Lawrence LeBee, editor Taylor H., educator and business owner Dr. Glennis Gaines, and film animator Carla Bellot. This group addressed a number of relevant topics including Construction and Deconstruction of Rap Music Videos; Creating an Effective Storyboard (film); Marketing Techniques, Animation and 2D motion.

The curtains were brought down with the closing credits, in the form of a Sunset Soirée, hosted in part, by the Fred Hotel in Fredricksted, which marked the official close to the festival. Amidst colourful lights, food and music, awards were presented to participants, film winners, and sponsors. Among those in attendance were Senator Positive Nelson and his wife, Kimberley, Rick Grant, special projects coordinator in the Office of the Governor, who conveyed messages of support and encouragement to the participants. Grant is a UVI Communication graduate.

Honore stated that she received help from as far away as Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Denver and gave special thanks to creative consultants, Margarita Sweet, Fraser Kershaw and Toi Matthews.

The Caribbean Film and Artistic Cinematic Festival was made possible by generous sponsors, including: U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Virgin Islands Council on the Arts (VICA), Crucian Gold, V.I. Lottery, Cape Air, First Bank, CBS and ABC USVI News, and Economic Development Authority (EDA), Food Town, Gaines Family Dentistry (Georgia) and VI Christian Ministry (St. Thomas).

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Special Book Donation Offers Unique View of History

Color, culture, picturesque beauty and history set the tone for the University of the Virgin Islands as the 2018-19 Holiday season saw the University receiving a special book donation, “Postales, Salvadoreañas del Ayer.”

"Postales, Salvadoreans del Ayer"

Written by Stephen Grant, “Postales, Salvadoreañas del Ayer,” Spanish for “Postcards of El Salvador 1900-1950,” is a postcard and photo book of El Salvador. While this is not the first time the University has received a book donation, this book is different because of its unique design, and what it encapsulates.

The book breathes new life into over 200 Salvadoran picture postcards of the 1900’s, adding color and illuminating commentary. The rich cultural heritage of El Salvador is unearthed as each page delves deeply into the everyday life of the city.

Grant gives readers a clearly painted insight through the display of public buildings; streets and squares in the capital; ports and markets; hotels, lakes and groups of Indians. The book also pays tribute to the men responsible for the photography, production, and distribution of postcards.

Postcard used in Postales, Salvadoreans del Ayer

 Postales, Salvadoreañas del Ayer” is the brainchild of internationally acclaimed author, Stephen Grant. Grant is a passionate deltiologist (postcard collector) who has written about old picture postcards in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. His work not only provides readers with a panoramic view of scenery, monuments and buildings, his handsome book constitutes a rare and exquisite patrimony of invaluable richness from historical, anecdotal, and cultural perspectives.

Left - Right: President Hall and book author, Stehphen Grant 

Grant is the author of several other books; one on the Folgers, a couple who followed the works of Shakespeare and established a theatre and library of Shakespeare's works in Washington, District of Columbia.

Over the Holiday break, UVI President David Hall hosted visitors, Bill and Debbie DeLone. These longtime friends and family of the UVI community, facilitated this special book donation.

Left -Right: Bill DeLone and Debbie DeLone

Accompanying the DeLones’ and the author, Stephen Grant was Henry Wheatley, a native Virgin Islander. Grant was supervised by Henry during the time he served in the Peace Corp and wanted to dedicate the book and gift to Henry’s wife, Artrelle Wheatley.

Left - Right: President Hall, Stephen Grant and Henry Wheatley

Mrs. Wheatley, at one time, worked at UVI in Access and Enrollment Services. Hence, the symbolic meaning behind Grant gifting the book to the University – an institution that holds significant value to the Wheatley’s. A special inscription in the University’s copy recognizes her.
Inscription dedicated to Artrelle Wheatley (wife of Henry Wheatley)

The book will be officially handed over to the Ralph Paiewonsky Library by President David Hall.

“I hope this book will inspire our students because of the cultural creativity they find within these pages. The culture of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean can also be majestically and creatively captured and unveiled for future generations.”  Dr. Hall said.

President Hall upon receipt of  "Postales, Salvadoreans del Ayer"

Prior to the DeLone’s relocation from the Virgin Islands to Washington, D. C., Bill DeLone was a professor of Computer Science at UVI. He was also very instrumental in the establishment of the RT Park, where he later served as a Board member.  His wife, Debbie is a native Virgin Islander who has held positions in both the public and private sectors in the Virgin Islands.

Debbie DeLone has collected a series of postcards from the Virgin Islands and is interested in providing them to the University if there is a student or faculty member who is interested in developing a similar book project with guidance and advice from Stephen Grant. President Hall is exploring the possibility of creating such a project at UVI.

Left - Right: Dr. Marilyn Brathwaite Hall (wife of President Hall), President Hall, Stephen Grant, Debbie DeLone, Bill DeLone and Henry Wheatley

Postales, Salvadoreañas del Ayer” was conceptualized, researched, developed, designed and printed in El Salvador. The book which is written in both English and Spanish, is available for purchase on