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.
Kareem Edwards attended Georgia Institute of Technology where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is currently employed at the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority as a Plant Engineer. Kareem continues to stay active after his academic career by participating in many extra-curricular activities. He is a member of the millennial board at CMCArts and also a board member of the St. Croix Farmers in Action Inc. In his spare time, he enjoys teaching Moko Jumbie to young people on Saturdays.
Bob Palmatier has served in a variety of educational and community leadership positions over the past 67 years. Early in his career, he worked in teacher education at Syracuse University, University of Georgia, and Northwestern State University, mostly at the graduate level. After 16 years of university-level work, Bob spent 20 years serving in administrative positions in Birmingham (Alabama) City Schools. Following retirement from public education, he entered the proprietary college arena, working at Fortis Institute, Virginia colleges, and their parent company, Education Corporation of America, as academic dean, campus president, and in corporate curriculum development and compliance. After leaving the college arena, Bob continued traveling to serve as a member of college accreditation visiting teams. Throughout his career and following retirement, Bob has served in leadership positions in numerous community service non-profits, including Birmingham Healthcare, Equality Alabama, AIDS Alabama, CMCAts, and St. Croix Pride.
Lisa Mordhorst owns DONE!, an administrative services firm focusing on accounting, audit management, bookkeeping, human resources, and business management with a primary focus on scalable and sustainable systems development and implementation for many clients on St. Croix. Lisa moved to St. Croix from New York City. She also provides marketing, graphic design, web design, and social media services. Lisa attended the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC, now absorbed by GW University, and received her BFA in photography in 1993. She exhibited her fine art photography as a practicing artist through 2009. Lisa has worked in arts administration, operational management, and exhibition management since 1989 in the development office of the Corcoran Museum of Art, operational manager for the Akira Ikeda Gallery NY satellite gallery, worked with the sculptor Mark di Suvero and his non-profit Socrates Sculpture Park for twelve years, and then with Tom Powel Imaging, exhibition photographer of all the great shows in New York City for five years. She has mounted an uncounted amount of exhibitions from conception to final public exhibition carrying out all administrative functions including curating, art shipping and handling, financial management, and publicity. She is now a proud member of the Board of Directors at CMCArts.
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.
Sonia Deane was born in Guyana, South America. Her family migrated to New York City at the age of 11. Sonia holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree from the City University of New York with a specialty in education. Her experience as an educator spans a period of over 30 years with the New York City Department of Education. Her illustrious career experiences included such accolades as the establishment of Manhattan Community College's first family daycare program network. She is an exuberant and passionate art collector and an enthusiast in the distillery and marketing of runs from every corner of the world. She fell in love with St. Croix after several visits since 1989. Since that time she has made St. Croix her principal residence. Currently, her focus had been on the rehabilitation of a 4,000 square foot building in Christiansted. Upon completion, the historical building complex will be a mixed-use property of residences and an art gallery and cultural center. The art gallery will fulfill a decades-long desire to bring together her love for education and art into a space where other collectors can appreciate and purchase Caribbean art.
Kai Nielsen hails all the way from St. Croix, he is the founder and chief executive of the Virgin Islands Collaborative Solutions LLC. Based on more than a decade of academic and professional experience in the spaces of policy design, community engagement and development, Kai formed VICS on the premise of sustainable environmental management with a people-first approach to solving problems facing life within the 21st Century. After staging more than four dozen planning sessions with countless individuals within the Territory's three branches of government, Kai began formalizing his visionary approaches for sustainable development, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, under the banner of V.I. Collaborative Solutions in 2015. His efforts were quickly realized by the Territory's non-profit sector as organizations such as the St. Croix Environmental Association, CMCArts, and the Oscar E Henry Farmland Preserve - vied for his leadership and strategic guidance. In 2018, Kai became the youngest President in the history of the Rotary Club of St. Croix, the second oldest Rotary Club the Caribbean namesake of the largest member ran non-profit organization in the region. While holding the post, Kai organized one of the territory's first community-based "Emergency Management Panels", which featured industry experts and led to the recruitment of key stakeholders within the space. Later that year Kai was recruited by the newly elected Bryan and Roach administration to become a member of their Economic Development Transition Team, an experience which greatly enriched his views on policy design and strategy development for the region. He is now closing out his Masters in Public Administration degree with the University of the Virgin Islands and is fully committed to the needs of the Virgin Islands and its people.
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.
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.