A student in Sloop Jones’ new Shirt of Art workshops shows off her creations.
Sloop Jones’ vibrant and colorful shirts, dresses, and other “wearable art” have long embodied the beautiful and creative spirit of St. John. The East End artist’s wearable souvenirs have been brightening the closets — and ensembles — of untold numbers of island visitors and residents alike since 1986.
Now, Sloop Jones, née Terry McKoy, is giving guests the chance to play Sloop for a day with his Shirt of Art workshops. Students are invited to make themselves at home in McKoy’s studio, where he’s amassed numerous paints, stencils, brushes, tools, and other resources that are at guests’ fingertips as they make their own creations.
Sloop Jones’ art workshops got their start when McKoy hosted lessons for kids attending camp at the V.I. Environmental Resource Station. By December 2012, McKoy realized there was a demand for people to express their creativity, and to walk away with something that would always remind them of their time on St. John.
“The people who come to the workshops are not interested in buying clothes,” said McKoy. “They’re interested in learning something.”
Over the past several months, McKoy has hosted everyone from large groups of friends to families to groups made up of people who didn’t previously know one another.
“People get to know one another over this art activity,” he said. “The nicest thing that we’ve seen is parents and kids interacting over a project that’s totally different than anything else they’d done in their lives.”
Even those who claim to have little to no creativity have benefited from Sloop Jones’ Shirt of Art workshops. The seminar begins with a lesson by McKoy himself, along with his helper Marcia, who boast 80 years’ worth of art experience between the two. Guests are taught about warm and cool colors, and are invited to mix colors and experiment on a “banner” – usually a pillowcase – which they are allowed to take home. Then, the t-shirt design begins.
“I like seeing people come in who say, ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body,’” said McKoy. “They walk away after three hours and they have this wonderful shirt that they’ve made. It’s a chance for somebody to get something out onto a medium they’ve never used before.”
Sloop Jones’ Shirt of Art workshops have earned rave reviews from students.
“Sloop and Marcia are wonderful teachers and it was an honor to have the opportunity to learn from them both,” said island visitor Mary Knysh. “Sloop shared his vast knowledge and experience in a fun and engaging manner. I loved this workshop and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to discover their own artist within.”
After a busy and successful winter workshop schedule, McKoy plans to host summer workshops Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through July 2. Workshops are open to everyone age six and older. To sign up for a workshop or to or learn more information, visit www.sloopjones.com.