The Caribbean Center for Boys & Girls of the Virgin Islands opens its doors to students in the after-school program Mondays through Fridays at the Frederiksted Center on St. Croix. Their most recent learning experience is mural painting, with “Self-Love” at its core, taught by artist Zunnania Anderson.
Anderson is a two-year resident living on St. Croix who majored in art at LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts in New York City. During high school, she enrolled in “Design Directions” at the Cooper Hewitt Museum where she learned jewelry and set design and was offered an internship at Olive 1:1, an office furniture design company.
Anderson attended Otis College in California and later transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York City. During college, she was a teaching assistant at Parsons. “The meat of my art education experience was at Sweat Equity for two years during college and four years after college, teaching young people design direction skills,” Anderson said. She created the syllabus and the training materials for teachers and the templates that were used. One of the students went on to create footwear for Calvin Klein and another is a buyer at Tiffany & Co.
Anderson worked for the program, Pure Elements, where artists develop a course curriculum and teach their craft directly in public schools. During her product design courses, students developed designs and prototypes for cell phone cases, book bags, and other products. She also taught fine art courses to elementary and middle school students where they recreate works from great artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Frida Kahlo to discover their unique artistic voices.
Anderson moved to St. Croix and continued to work for Pure Elements — this time remotely — because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. She lives in close proximity to the Boys and Girls Center location and had the desire to meet and work with the children in her neighborhood. When she and Boys and Girls Center Director Neil Canton met, the two agreed the after-school students would benefit from an art program.
“I’ve painted murals indoors on a smaller scale and I’ve always wanted to paint – really, really big – on an outdoor mural. It was the perfect introduction … a feeler … to teach the students in the program. Murals have the opportunity to tell the community’s story,” Anderson said.
“With that intention, the CCBGVI will use their dedicated outside mural space to promote a theme of Inspiration; a message that amplifies the community’s core values.”
Introduction to Mural Painting is an eight-week mural painting class, where students are tasked with completing a full-scale mural from concept to fruition.
“The decision was made that the theme ‘Inspiration’ would represent the mural.
Students sketched and wrote what inspires them and what inspiration means to them.”
Anderson led the students in the instruction and sketches with similar elements were combined and the concept of “Positivity Galaxy” was formed. It is a positive place where everyone lives in peace and happiness with beautiful people, hills, plants, trees, rocket ships, stars, stores, rainbows, and huge bees that carry and pollinate all positive intentions and affirmations.
“Positivity Galaxy” began with the “mural mockup” of a full scale (9 feet by 9 feet) of the students’ sketches. The final sketches were divided into 25 equal squares. The transfer and scale of each part of the sketch went onto the corresponding 22-inch by 22-inch square, with Anderson’s guidance.
“The mural is intended to be interactive. Chalk paint is used as the background to highlight the flower. The students can write, rewrite, and change their intentions and affirmations as each of them grows.”
All of the boys and girls took part in writing, drawing, and painting in the creation of the galaxy. The Source caught up with four of the most prolific artists: Nasheem Christopher, Destiny Ayala, Pashaneque Brewster, and De’Kayla Joseph. They each pointed out their artistic contributions to the mural and shared how much they enjoyed being a part of the creative effort.
Monday, June 20, is the completion date with all artists posting their signatures to the space adjacent to the mural.
Anderson and her students plan a “Community Mural Reveal” of their in-person final presentation, date and time to be announced. Be on the lookout!