The St. John Arts Festival has been a wonderful, weeklong celebration featuring arts and crafts, music, and dancing for the past 20 years. The St. John Heritage Collective (St.JanCo) found a way to bring the art to a greater audience for the 21st anniversary of the festival.
For 20 years, the St. John Arts Festival showcased art from the ‘predominantly black multi racial and multi ethnic St. John community’ and was held in Cruz Bay, organized by Mr. Frank Langley. In 2020, Langley decided to begin transitioning the festival to St.JanCo, a community land trust ‘on a mission to preserve the history, identity, and culture of St. John’s people, especially those whose ancestry on St. John predates the 1917 American Purchase of the USVI from Denmark, and the 1956 establishment of the Virgin Islands National Park.
The pandemic sidelined any thoughts of doing an in-person festival, but St.JanCo managed to produce a beautiful digital zine to celebrate this momentous occasion of the festival’s 21st anniversary. At the zine launch party, hosted at Bajo El Sol on February 26, St.JanCo co-founder and president Hadiya Sewer, PhD and co-founder and vice president Kurt Marsh Jr. highlighted artists such as Ms. Frett, Mr. Peterson, and Ms. Karen Samuel.
The St.JanCo organization was presenting a work of art themselves by compiling these artists, their art, and their stories into a published format. Getting a glimpse into St. John’s cultural history is invaluable and necessary.
Please visit the 21st Annual St. John Arts Festival Virtual Zine and be sure to give yourself time to watch each interview and read each story. This publication has been carefully curated, so I recommend reading it as intended by the authors.
If you are interested in purchasing a print edition of the zine, please email Lauren Prince at [email protected].
The organization is graciously accepting donations and encouraging supporters to participate in their raffle. “To celebrate the beautiful arts and crafts created on St. John, St.JanCo is hosting a raffle. By making a donation, you have the opportunity to win and take home hand crafted prizes created by local artists and experience a lovely beach picnic. We offer these crafts and moments in the hopes of highlighting the skill and craftsmanship of St. Johnians, while raising funds to support our projects that work to preserve the history, identity, and culture of St. John.” – St.JanCo
To donate or join the raffle, please click here.