Virgin Islands curator and arts advocate Priscilla Hintz Rivera Knight has launched the USVICOVID19ARTS online archive portal. This online archive seeks to support artists in archiving, preserving and making accessible – virtually and to the public – U.S. Virgin Islands visual and literary artistic responses to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This ongoing project will be continuously updated, and the call for artists submissions is ongoing. The website address is www.usvicovid19arts.com.
“As we approach the one year anniversary of the first quarantine shutdown in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I want to ensure that we capture and properly archive the artistic achievements produced by Virgin Islands artists during this historic moment. Throughout the world, artists have been inspiring us, entertaining us, provoking us, challenging us and sustaining us during these most challenging times,” according to Knight.
About the Archive:
Pandemics have occurred at various points in history, most recently the 19th-century outbreak of cholera; the 1918 Spanish flu with a death toll of more than 50 million people worldwide; the smallpox pandemic, eradicated in 1980; and the HIV/AIDS crisis, classified as a pandemic in 1983. Throughout the centuries, artists have created their works for the purposes of healing and unleashing art as a tool for education, compassion, hope and solidarity during crises.
Now, amid COVID-19 and movements for racial and environmental justice, a current generation of artists are spreading compassion and healing through painting, performance, sculpture, textiles, drawings, design and spoken word and poetry.
Much of that work speaks not only to the coronavirus pandemic but to the deeper crisis facing the Caribbean, the United States and the rest of the world: the disease of racial inequality and environmental injustice. These multiple crises are linked, exacerbated by each other and bound by a mutual denominator of health inequity.
We are living in a historic moment. A virtual archive of pandemic-related images and stories by artists, curators and arts organizations throughout the V.I. will highlight a defining moment in U.S. Virgin Islands and global history.
Documentation of arts is essential so that future generations can learn from and experience current events through the community’s artistic accounts of an unprecedented and historic time.
This archive will consist of COVID-19 arts-related news accounts related to the arts community in the territory. It will also document visual works, poetry and spoken word by students and professional artists and writers working throughout the USVI and Virgin Islanders living in the diaspora. In addition, it will document special projects or exhibitions by V.I. arts organizations.
This site will be continuously updated during the pandemic and will seek work that artists have created independently or through an arts organization, with an emphasis on self-expression, candor and a willingness to be a social commentator.
Works that will be accepted for the archives will be COVID-19 specific or inspired. In addition, work will be considered that is relevant to the inequities that make this pandemic even more significant, in particular, work that addresses racial inequality and environmental injustice in the time of COVID-19.
A deadline has not been established due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic. Submissions will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the COVID-19 virus is no longer prevalent throughout the world.
Knight is encouraging artists to go to the newly created website to see current submissions and for submission information, application requirements and guidelines at www.usvicovid19arts.com.
This project is funded in part by the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. It is being created in collaboration with the Gri Gri Project. Knight is serving as the archive curator.
The Gri Gri Project’s mission is the creation of interpretive exhibitions, critical writing, events and archives related to the cultural patrimony of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region. The Gri Gri Project has been involved in arts-related projects and exhibitions in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the United States, Aruba, Denmark and Cuba.
Knight holds a MA Degree in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a BA in Social Sciences with a concentration in Caribbean studies from the University of the Virgin Islands. She was the editor and co-founder of Art Fusion magazine and has worked for and collaborated with such organizations as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the Turabo University Art Museum and Center for Humanistic Studies in Puerto Rico; The St. Thomas Historical Trust; El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; and Casa de las Américas, in Cuba. She is currently the owner of Bajo el Sol Gallery on St. John.