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Carmen Nibbs of St. Thomas Debuts Madras Fashion Dolls in Orlando

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Carmen Nibbs from St. Thomas proudly showcases her collection, “Dolls in Madras Fashions,” at the Orlando Science Center. This display is part of the “ART SPEAKS: A Celebration of Black Artists” event, highlighting creative talents from Central Florida.

Carmen Nibbs, a St. Thomian artist and doll stylist, is currently presenting her collection of madras fashion dolls at the Orlando Science Center. This exhibit is a part of the “ART SPEAKS: A Celebration of Black Artists,” an event dedicated to showcasing the artistic prowess of individuals from Central Florida.

Her exhibition, titled “Dolls in Madras Fashions – Cultural, Traditional and Modern,” has drawn considerable attention for its unique display of “Barbie”-sized dolls. These dolls are adorned in attire that pays homage to Caribbean culture, highlighting the region’s colorful fashion and vibrant madras fabrics. This display offers a visually captivating and culturally enriching experience to its viewers.

Hosted in the Science Center’s Fusion STEAM Gallery, which sees an annual footfall of approximately 700,000 visitors, the exhibit features seven distinct dolls. Each doll narrates a unique story, starting with the Moko Jumbies, which are iconic figures in the USVI and other Caribbean nations. The exhibit then transitions to “Three Generations of Traditional Madras Dolls,” a representation that beautifully encapsulates familial bonds.

As visitors continue their journey through the exhibit, they witness the versatility of madras fabric. One doll is dressed in traditional garb, while another is adorned in a contemporary outfit made from the official USVI madras pattern. This juxtaposition highlights the fabric’s adaptability in fashion.

Madras fabric, a key element of this exhibit, is celebrated for its rich and complex global history, tracing back to its origins in Madrasputnam, India, in the early 1500s. The fabric has since become an integral part of Caribbean culture, embodying a legacy of colonialism, trade, and tradition.

Ms. Nibbs, an alumnus of Charlotte Amalie High School and Temple University, Philadelphia, founded Laylee M. Doll Clothes in 2015. Her business, fueled by her passion for doll styling, operates through the Etsy e-commerce platform and enjoys a significant following on social media.

Her talent in sewing, a skill she attributes to her late grandmother Mabel Nibbs of Tortola, BVI, a skilled seamstress herself, has been central to her success. Despite the challenges of obtaining specialty fabrics in Central Florida, Ms. Nibbs remains thankful to her friends in St. Thomas, who ensure she has a consistent supply of the exclusive territorial Madras and other prints.

The “Dolls in Madras Fashions” exhibit is set to be open to the public from January 13 to April 4.

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Arts

Vote for St. Thomas’s Harika Jhanwar in the National ‘Doodle for Google’ Competition

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The national “Doodle for Google” competition is in full swing, and third-grader Harika Jhanwar from St. Thomas is in the running and needs your vote.

Eight-year-old Harika, a student at All Saints Cathedral School, has been submitting her artistic creations as potential Google Doodles for three years. “She is an art lover, and any competition related to art she likes to participate,” said her mother, Nidhi Jhanwar. This year, her dedication has paid off as her entry was selected from thousands, making her one of 55 state and territorial winners.

Harika’s artwork, titled “Ocean in Motion,” reflects her desire for a clean ocean where marine animals can thrive. Her mother explains, “keeping the environment clean starts from the ocean so it’s good for humans too.” Harika dreams of becoming a marine biologist and her artwork illustrates her passion for ocean conservation.

The competition will determine a national winner on June 4 through public voting. The national winner will receive a $55,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology package for their school or a chosen nonprofit, a personal and school trophy, Google hardware, and other Google-themed items. The winning Doodle will be featured on Google’s homepage for a day.

Additionally, five runners-up will each receive a $5,000 scholarship, Google hardware, and promotional items. All national finalists’ artwork will be displayed in the Doodle for Google gallery, with special awards for pieces that align with Google’s values.

Voting for the Doodle for Google competition is currently open and will close on Tuesday, June 4. To support Harika, voters can visit the competition website and look for her entry from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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St. Thomas’ Own Nicole Sealey Earns Prestigious Nomination for the 2024 OCM Bocas Prize

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The 2024 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature has announced its distinguished shortlist, celebrating the exemplary works of three Caribbean authors across diverse genres. Among the honorees, Nicole Sealey, hailing from St. Thomas, has been recognized as the Poetry category winner for her compelling work, The Ferguson Report: An Erasure. Sealey’s innovative approach transforms the 2015 report on Michael Brown’s tragic death in Ferguson, Missouri, into a profound reflection on contemporary societal challenges and the act of witnessing history.

Nicole Sealey, who grew up in Apopka, Florida, has an impressive educational background with a Master of Liberal Arts in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University. Over six years, Sealey meticulously edited the Ferguson report, reconfiguring its narrative to offer new perspectives and insights.

In her conversation with Erik Gleibermann for Poets & Writers, Sealey shared the fulfillment she found in reinterpreting the document, suggesting that by erasing parts of the text, she was symbolically addressing and ameliorating the original incident’s impact. This method reflects a deep engagement with the material and a creative pursuit of justice through art.

The Ferguson Report: An Erasure has not only earned the accolade of being named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker but also adds to Sealey’s growing list of achievements. Her previous works, Ordinary Beast and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, have also received significant acclaim, earning her awards from prestigious institutions such as Princeton University, the American Academy in Rome, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Joining Sealey on the shortlist are Kevin Jared Hosein from Trinidad & Tobago, recognized in the fiction category for Hungry Ghosts, and Safiya Sinclair from Jamaica, awarded in non-fiction for How to Say Babylon. The grand prize winner of the 2024 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature will be unveiled on April 27, an announcement eagerly awaited by the literary community and readers worldwide.

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A Spectacular Showcase: USVI Dance Academy Shines at ADE Master Classes

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The U.S. Virgin Islands’ FAPA USVI Dance Academy emerged as a standout participant at the Artistic Dance Exchange’s (ADE) master classes in Virginia this March, earning an invitation to the ADE national competition set for Orlando, Florida, from July 6 to July 12.

At ADE’s Virginia sessions, the young dancers from the academy achieved numerous awards, including the top overall solo for mini beginners to intermediate, and the best in show for contemporary choreography in the same category. Their outstanding performances also earned them national scholarships, a nod to their exceptional talent and dedication.

Azalea Pearsall led the academy’s successes with the first-place award in the top overall solo for mini beginners to intermediate category, showcasing her exceptional talent. The academy’s innovative approach to dance was further highlighted by Lea Scott’s contemporary piece “#110 Lose Control,” which took the best in show for contemporary choreography for mini beginners to intermediate, solidifying FAPA’s reputation for creative excellence.

Additional accolades were abundant. Both Azalea Pearsall and Demiah Philip received National Scholarships, marking them as dancers of outstanding potential. High Gold Awards were secured by Azalea Pearsall, Aysia Frett, and Teagan Campbell, among other notable achievements, demonstrating the team’s deep talent and dedication.

The upcoming national competition in Orlando isn’t just a chance for teams to vie for cash and prizes. For the first time in 2024, ADE will host a national dance casting call, offering dancers the unique opportunity to be scouted by casting directors from film, theater, television, commercials, cruise lines, and new media. This opens doors to auditions for roles in upcoming projects across various entertainment industries.

Additionally, dancers can audition for the ADE’s International Exchange Program, offering a select few the chance to participate in this year’s production of Ceta con la Danza in Benicàssim, Spain.

To support the team’s journey to the national stage, FAPA Director Lea Scott announced a series of fundraising events planned for April, May, and June. She calls on the community to support these talented young dancers as they prepare to make their mark on the national competition scene.

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