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St. Croix Artist La Vaughn Belle’s Video Works to be Shown at Bajo El Sol on STJ

La Vaughn Belle (Submitted photo)

Bajo el Sol Gallery, in collaboration with the St. John Film Society and the Gri Gri Project, will welcome St.  Croix artist La Vaughn Belle for a screening of her recent video works on June 22 at 6 p.m. There will also be a signing of her catalogue for “Being of Myth and Memory,” the artist’s 2023-2024 exhibition, at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted.

Part of the mission of the St. John Film Society is to present independent films that celebrate the human spirit with a focus on the Caribbean. There is a suggested donation of $5, according to the press release.

Video works to be screened at Bajo El Sol include “‘Por El Viento y La Curriente / Becoming Wind and Current,” a poetic investigation of the history of marronage and its implications today commissioned by MAC en el Barrio, a program of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, in collaboration with COPI (Coorporación Piñones se Integra, Inc.). The screening will also include ‘Effluvia,’ a video commissioned by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art on the occasion of Belle’s solo exhibition in 2023. Shot in the marshes and swamps of South Carolina, Belle traverses former rice plantations and sites of slave rebellions to explore what histories ooze from the earth and water, the press release stated.

Copies of the catalogue for “Being of Myth and Memory” will be on sale at the screening. That exhibition, curated by Erica Moiah James, Ph.D. at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, included videos, sculptures, digital collages, and paper collage paintings, the release stated.

Catalogue of “Being of Myth and Memory” (Submitted photo)

James writes, “In the wake of catastrophic histories, La Vaughn Belle’s generative practice is activated by a belief that myth and memory are not only foundational to collective identity but are necessary for life. While memories tend to be tethered to an event that has been directly experienced, myths are negotiated, may have multiple versions and are capable of reinvention. They are open and continual discourses that are alive.”

La Vaughn Belle makes visible the unremembered. Through exploring the material culture of coloniality, Belle creates narratives from fragments and silences. Working in a variety of disciplines, her practice includes painting, installation, photography, writing, video, and public interventions. Her work with colonial-era pottery led to a commission with the renowned brand of porcelain products, the Royal Copenhagen, according to the release.

She has exhibited her work in the Caribbean, the USA and Europe in institutions such as the Museo del Barrio (NY), Casa de las Americas (Cuba), the Museum of the African Diaspora (CA) and Kunsthal Charlottenborg (DK) with large solo exhibitions at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (SC) and the National Nordic Museum (WA). Her art is in the collections of the National Photography Museum and the Vestsjælland Museum in Denmark and the National Gallery of Art and the Virginia Fine Art Museum in the U.S., it said.

She is the co-creator of I Am Queen Mary, the artist-led groundbreaking monument that confronted the Danish colonial amnesia while commemorating the legacies of resistance of the African people who were brought to the former Danish West Indies. The project was featured in over 100 media outlets around the world, including the NY Times, Politiken, VICE, the BBC, and Le Monde. Her work has also been written about in Hyperallergic, Artforum, Small Axe and numerous journals and books, the release stated.

Belle holds an MFA from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and an MA and BA from Columbia University in NY. She was a finalist for the She Built NYC project to develop a monument to memorialize the legacy of Shirley Chisholm and for the Inequality in Bronze project in Philadelphia to redesign one of the first monuments to an enslaved woman at the Stenton Historic House Museum. As a 2018-2020 fellow at the Social Justice Institute at the Barnard Research Center for Women at Columbia University, she researched the citizenless Virgin Islanders in the Harlem Renaissance. She is a founding member of the Virgin Islands Studies Collective (VISCO). Her studio is based in the Virgin Islands, it said.

The Gri Gri Project’s mission is to create and support interpretive art exhibitions, artist-centered events, archives, and writing related to the cultural patrimony of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the broader Caribbean region, according to the release.

Bajo El Sol Gallery & Art Bar is located in Mongoose Junction, St. John.

The screening is supported by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, the release stated.



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