V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship Exhibit Celebrates Boricua Women

“Ataqua al Congreso” by Emili Vando, acrylic on canvas (Submitted by Wilfred Labiosa)

The Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts opened its first virtual exhibit on Oct. 2 in celebration of Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship. The Anacaonas de Borinquen exhibit honors Puerto Rican/Boricua women and will run through Jan. 2, 2021. The show, curated by Wilfred Labiosa, is comprised of original artworks, silkscreens and lithographs by Puerto Rican artists.

The online exhibit can also be visited in-person at the museum’s upstairs gallery on Strand Street in Frederiksted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The wearing of face masks is required, and a maximum of ten people will be allowed in the gallery at a time.

Wilfred Labiosa, curator (Submitted by Wilfred Labiosa)

The collection of 75 artworks is part of a traveling exhibit that includes works from the collection of Labiosa Center for the Arts and the W. Labiosa Gallery, the oldest in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The gallery was established more than 50 years ago by the late Wilfred Labiosa, the renowned artist recognized for his graphic and textile designs and artwork.

Traditionally, Puerto Rican women are the leaders of the household, the community and are an integral part of Puerto Rican society. The group show of well-known and significant artists reflects the diversity of Puerto Rican women through art.

Labiosa explained the show is named for Anacaonas, also known as Golden Flower, a Taino war chieftess, religious figure and poet born in Haiti. According to the legend, she was the prettiest Taino woman in all the Caribbean. She succeeded her brother Bojeckio as chief of the Jaraqua after his death and had 80 regional chiefs under her command. Borinquen is the native Taino name for Puerto Rico, while Boricua is the native Taino name for an individual living in Puerto Rico.

“Con Los Ojos del Alma, Recitel de Lergier” by Alberto Ortiz Collazo, silkscreen poster, 1971 (Submitted by Wilfred Labiosa)

“Typically, we bring in a curator with the artwork and it’s set up,” said CMCARTS museum manager Jay Weiss. But because of COVID, Labiosa and Weiss met on their iPhones and worked together through FaceTime, Apple’s video and audio chatting platform.

Labiosa mailed everything to Weiss. All the videos were loaded onto the computer. “Every day we walked through the exhibit and arranged and rearranged artwork. It was a lot of fun,” Weiss said.

Patrons can virtually enter the gallery on the museum website and sign in. On Friday, 100 people signed in and visited the exhibit, Weiss said.

Jay Weiss, CMCARTS museum manager (Submitted by Jay Weiss)

“Because of COVID and folks not wanting to come into the gallery, the museum was not able to get supporters. So, hitting the ‘Donate’ button on the website is so important,” Weiss said. He is encouraging virtual patrons to contribute to the museum after traversing the online gallery.

Some of the exhibited works are available for purchase. While on the website, a patron may click on “Shop” and select items to purchase. Once the online purchase is paid for, it can be picked up after the exhibit closes.

Labiosa has dedicated a gallery room, “Homage to Women,” to show the work of his father, the late Wilfred Labiosa. “My father’s work depicts the richness of the Puerto Rican landscapes as well as the culture that exists in Puerto Rico,” he said.

Several of the paintings at the Anacaonas de Borinquen exhibit. (Courtesy of CMCArts)

“I’ve decided to include his depiction of women – a type of work that is modern, contemporary and different. I chose a linoleum block that won awards, as well as those types of paintings that are black and white, minimalistic of color and depict the richness and the complexity of women,” Labiosa said.

The traveling exhibit includes artists like Emeli Vando, Alberto Ortiz Collazo, Lillian Colon, Antonio Maldonado and Torres Soto. Many of the artists in the show were the late Labiosa’s teachers and students.

For more information visit www.cmcarts.org or contact cmcarts@gmail.com or 340-772-2622.