Art Raises The Spirit
The Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) was conceived by Candia Atwater in 1994 as a means of addressing the increase in violence afflicting the youth of St. Croix. Her goal was to provide and teach alternative forms of positive expression through art. At that time, Atwater, a prosecutor for the Department of Justice handling matters in Family Court and an avid collector of Caribbean art, saw the need to have a special place for children, as well as the larger island community to create and appreciate art in all its forms. To address that need she initiated a quality, multi-faceted arts program that focused on St. Croix's youth. As part of CMCArts' annual offerings, Ms. Atwater also initiated the now much beloved and eagerly anticipated ISLAND ART & SOUL calendar which showcases Caribbean artists and their work. Since 2003, CMCArts programs and exhibitions have been housed in a beautiful, historic building on Strand Street in Frederiksted.
OUR MISSION AND VISION
To inspire and promote the Caribbean's rich cultural and artistic heritage through engaging the diverse communities of the Islands
Engage and celebrate the diversity of artists and audiences of the Caribbean
Promote creativity and critical thinking
Exhibit integrity by being good stewards in and honest, transparent, and ethical manner
Commitment to celebrate the rich and diverse artistic traditions of the Caribbean
Meet The Team
Orville James is a native son from Dominica and has lived in St. Croix for more than twenty years. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Florida and manages capital and renewable energy construction projects for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority. Orville values community service and has served as a past president of WAPA's Professional and Technical Employees' Union and the Elena L. Christian school's Parent Teacher Student Association and as the secretary of People United for a Better Virgin Islands. As the race director of The Virgin Islands Pace Runners, he officiates many competitive and other sporting events. He also volunteers as an assistant to the Director of Judging and Awards for the Agrifest Board of Directors and participates in the music ministry of the Midland Wesleyan Holiness Church. Orville enjoys spending time with his family and delights in all that living in the Caribbean provides including swimming, sailing, scuba diving, gardening, and hiking. He believes art expresses culture, celebrates beauty, and inspires people and considers it an honor to be a member of CMCArts Board of Directors.
Susan Atkins is a tireless advocate of civic involvement, she has served on numerous boards and organizations including Chair of the Fun-raising committee of the Women's Coalition of St. Croix, Library Commissioner in San Diego, Chair of the Diversionary Theater Board and the National Victory Fund, to name a few. With an MBA from Pepperdine University and BA and MA degree from the University of Oklahoma, Susan had a 40-year career in Communications including Vice President of a Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical company, teaching journalism at the University of Tulsa, and eventually founded the most successful investor relations and public relations firm in the biotechnology industry in California which she sold to Porter Novelli, a global communications firm. Susan is a patron of the arts and an aficionado of the theater. As a fine art collector, her paintings include Caribbean artists and some of the most respected and esteemed Chinese contemporary artists working today. This collection attests to her belief in how art informs the present and creates a path for the future. Susan is involved and committed to increasing understanding of the importance that arts programs serve in a community.
Allison Johnson is the co-owner of Cowboy Jungle Inc., an omnichannel retail/e-tail commerce company focused on medical apparel and footwear. She currently handles PR and marketing for the 19-year-old company's multiple businesses to consumer e-commerce sites with her husband of 24 years. While her children were young, Allison taught children aged pre-K to 8th grade in public and private schools in San Francisco, Atlanta, and North Carolina. Her first teaching job was at a Title One elementary school that served a large concentration of low-income students. She was an English language development specialist, teaching emerging multilingual students (Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish) to be English proficient. Other specialties included teaching gifted education, and working with students with behavioral problems and learning disabilities in a self-contained classroom. Allison cultivated a love of people, places, art, and culture through extensive travel at an early age. She studied in Canada and Japan and worked in the Secretariat of Women's Rights of the French Parliament translating documents from French to English for the European Economic Community. She fell in love at first sight with the people, culture, and natural beauty of St. Croix and chose to make it her family's forever home in 2017.
Janis Valmond has lived and worked in the USVI for over thirty years, interrupted by brief stints spent on the US mainland to pursue graduate school. Dr. Valmond is a former researcher and part-time faculty member of the University of the Virgin Islands. Dr. Valmond joined the staff of the Department of Health in April 2019, as Deputy Commissioner of Health. She is a founding Board member of BrightSpark, Inc. a non-profit organization based on St. Croix and the primary sponsor of the Dominique James Reading Program: Reading Carnival and Book Fair. Her volunteer efforts in the past have included time as Troop Leader with the St. Patrick School Girl Scout Troops and she currently serves as an adult volunteer with the St. Patrick Youth Ministry. Serving as a Board member at CMCArts is one way she finds to give back to a vibrant St. Croix community that has provided a rich, stimulating environment to raise an awesome daughter and provided opportunities to work with a wide range of talented, committed individuals.
Wilfred Labiosa, PhD, born and raised in Puerto Rico, has been a community leader and advocate for the last thirty years. He lived for more than 26 years in Boston, Massachusetts where he studied at multiple prestigious institutions. He is owner of Cuba Puerto Rico Tours, company that focuses on facilitating educational and humanitarian travel to Cuba; and co-owner of Labiosa Family Art Collection.
He has published extensively his research with the dually-diagnosed Latino community, mental health and a substance abuse diagnosis; works as a consultant and/ or supervisor on state, national and international projects that focus on mental health, HIV/AIDS prevention, homeless, youth, Latinos, LGBTQ+, people with dual diagnosis or evidence-based treatment modalities. He has worked with LGBT and HIV organizations locally, nationally and internationally for many years, as a mentor, mental health provider or evaluator. Born and raised in Puerto Rico; He graduated with a doctorate degree from Simmons University, School of Social Work, and Master's Degree from Northeastern University's Department of Counseling Psychology, and a graduate certificate from Suffolk University’s management of non-profits. His Bachelor’s degree is from Boston University. He is currently the CEO of Waves Ahead Corp, a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico focusing in the elder and LGBT+ community, managing two Community Centers focused on the LGBT Older Adult.
Anne Kershaw is a lawyer, technologist, and entrepreneur who is delighted to finally have time to give back to her new St. Croix community, having moved to St. Croix with her husband Clifford Berger in 2016. Since graduating, cum laude, from New York Law School (evening division) in 1987, Anne has worked as a litigator and legal technology consultant, starting two successful legal consulting firms. In addition, she was an adjunct-faculty member at Columbia University for nineteen years, has served on numerous boards, speaks frequently at legal conferences, and has authored numerous published articles. She is a classical flute player, having attended The Julliard School while in high school and a graduate of Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Anne is also an amateur historian who is passionate about civil rights. Anne is also passionate about Caribbean art and education and is honored to be a member of CMCArts Board of Directors.
Troy Williams is a Proud Virgin Islander with Strong Frederiksted Roots and alumni of the former Good Hope School. An Information Technology professional by education and experienced in Cyber Security Engineering, Systems Administration, and IT Consulting. Troy was formerly the vice chair of the Special Olympics Committee and was the President of the first nationally chartered Young Democrats Club in Virgin Islands History. He believes “using technology to make the lives of all Virgin Islander better should be at the forefront of policy-making decisions today and is extremely passionate about sports, family, weather, politics, and effective media communication. Troy believes that through creative expression of the Arts & History you can paint an accurate picture of any culture and is delighted to be a member of the CMCArts Board of Directors.
Stephanie Chalana Brown, through her photography, fine art, cinematography, content, and festival arts, examines our present identities while also playing an important part in the preservation of Virgin Island culture from the past. She is known by her affectionate nickname, Chalana, and she creates digital mixed media fine art works using photography as her primary medium. The Madras that Binds All Ah We was the title of her debut collection of fine art "received high praise because it was inspired by the poem written by Richard Schrader from the Virgin Islands. The art series was utilized by legislators in a number of town hall meetings in an effort to advocate for Act No. 8424, which would establish an official Virgin Islands madras. As a documentary filmmaker, Chalana has produced a range of unique broadcast programs. These programs include Griot and Foodie Insider, both of which are currently airing on local broadcast networks. In addition, the Virtual Crucian Cultural Cuisine dialogues chronicle the traditional foodways of the Virgin Islands. Further utilizing photography as a medium of storytelling, the Chalana project "E3: Exploration, Evolution, and Effectuation" exploring Virgin Islands identity through history, fashion, fabric, and photography has been included in two articles in a Danish academic publication exploring coloniality in the Danish West Indies, which are now the Virgin Islands of the United States. In addition, the projects she has undertaken at the Caribbean Museum of the Arts, the exhibition titled "Claiming Spaces: The African Story of the Sugar Mill" received high praise and sparked further conversation about the erasure of Africans ingenuity in the built heritage of what are now the Virgin Islands. This conversation centered on the importance of not erasing uncomfortable stories and legacies for the sake of comfortability, particularly with regard to historic sugar mills and former plantation spaces. As the artistic director of the Sanctuary Festival troupe, Chalana and team members reimagine traditional festival costumes and forgo new connections between them and more modern aesthetics and design principles. Additionally, Stephanie Chalana Brown is the State Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Department of Education of the Virgin Islands' Division of Virgin Island Cultural Education.