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Artist Showcases Challenging Work in Frederiksted Presentation

July 24, 2007 — Self-taught artist Jeanine Kamilah Valrie told a small gathering Tuesday evening how her travels shaped the way she looks at the world and how they fueled her creative experiences.
Valrie, 29, was born and raised outside of Chicago, Ill., and now lives in Washington D.C. She earned a master of public health degree from George Washington University. In 2000, she went to South Africa as part of a humanitarian group whose mission was to help residents suffering with HIV/AIDS.
There, Valrie says, she experienced a society built around class, felt the frustrations of people with the disease and found herself surrounded by artisans who eked out a living through handmade crafts and fabrics. It was during that visit her passion for art was unleashed.
But the creations of this multimedia artist did not conform to the norm.
"I make resistance art," Valrie told about 20 people gathered at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) on Strand Street in Frederiksted. "I use art to symbolize things that are humanly demoralizing.”
Valrie showed some of her pieces in a slide-show presentation. In them, she approaches controversial subjects such as religious figures contrasted with such real-life tragedies as euthanasia, or uses word association to demonstrate how similar expressions have different meanings depending on the subject.
One piece was a tribute to her mother, shown surrounded by orange marigolds in a 1960s-era photo. Another, called “dis-placed,” shows a hammer with the head broken off. That image was a tribute to Katrina victims, and the hammer was one she actually used helping a woman trapped in her home after the storm.
"Everything I do I want to say something,” Valrie said. "These are images of change and social power."
When the urge to create this type of art surfaced in her, Valrie was unsure how it would be accepted, she said. "People are afraid to do it, because many people don't do it," she explained. But through research she found role models in various artists who had experimented in art that made social statements.
Valrie is the artist in residence for July at CMCArts. Her visit is partially funded by the V.I. Council on the Arts.
On Friday the gallery will host a closing ceremony for its summer program, Promoting Literacy Through the Arts. The program is a free after-school and summer program sponsored by the St. Croix Library Association and CMCArts, and is funded by a 2006 national leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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July 24, 2007 -- Self-taught artist Jeanine Kamilah Valrie told a small gathering Tuesday evening how her travels shaped the way she looks at the world and how they fueled her creative experiences.
Valrie, 29, was born and raised outside of Chicago, Ill., and now lives in Washington D.C. She earned a master of public health degree from George Washington University. In 2000, she went to South Africa as part of a humanitarian group whose mission was to help residents suffering with HIV/AIDS.
There, Valrie says, she experienced a society built around class, felt the frustrations of people with the disease and found herself surrounded by artisans who eked out a living through handmade crafts and fabrics. It was during that visit her passion for art was unleashed.
But the creations of this multimedia artist did not conform to the norm.
"I make resistance art," Valrie told about 20 people gathered at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) on Strand Street in Frederiksted. "I use art to symbolize things that are humanly demoralizing.”
Valrie showed some of her pieces in a slide-show presentation. In them, she approaches controversial subjects such as religious figures contrasted with such real-life tragedies as euthanasia, or uses word association to demonstrate how similar expressions have different meanings depending on the subject.
One piece was a tribute to her mother, shown surrounded by orange marigolds in a 1960s-era photo. Another, called “dis-placed,” shows a hammer with the head broken off. That image was a tribute to Katrina victims, and the hammer was one she actually used helping a woman trapped in her home after the storm.
"Everything I do I want to say something,” Valrie said. "These are images of change and social power."
When the urge to create this type of art surfaced in her, Valrie was unsure how it would be accepted, she said. "People are afraid to do it, because many people don't do it," she explained. But through research she found role models in various artists who had experimented in art that made social statements.
Valrie is the artist in residence for July at CMCArts. Her visit is partially funded by the V.I. Council on the Arts.
On Friday the gallery will host a closing ceremony for its summer program, Promoting Literacy Through the Arts. The program is a free after-school and summer program sponsored by the St. Croix Library Association and CMCArts, and is funded by a 2006 national leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.