Carnival a la Virgin Island Style

These are very old images from the Carnival on St. John, Virgin Islands

Sadly I have no student-made image for this project. When I first began teaching at the high school I was assigned to help a student develop an independent project. The student had no visual art background and was entirely intimidated (I will not go into why she was assigned to me...). Her strength was in dance, voice and choreography. She arrived after the start of school from her family's home in the British Virgin Islands. We had vacationed in the U.S. Virgin Islands that summer so I knew a little about her cultural background.

So together we brain stormed and came up with a super idea....she would design carnival costumes, and have them made up in the BVI, she would keep a journal of her process and progress, and choreograph a dance for her and select friends to perform for the school audience at the annual holiday event for performing arts at the end of the semester.

I helped her design a "paper doll" image by tracing around a figure of a model in a catalog. This was then photo-copied along with an area for notations for fabrics and trims. The student then drew her designs (front and back views) and also created headgear, foot ware, and other accessories and created a palette for each design.

She researched and wrote about carnival history and culture. We lunched at local Caribbean restaurants. During the Thanksgiving break she flew to the islands to pick up the finished costumes from the seamstresses. She also got a cd of steel drum music written by a cousin and performed by him and friends. While she was there she also borrowed some traditional costumes.

Back at home she choreographed her dance and worked with the other students...and would not allow me to see their progress! The night of the event, the new head of school's wife sat next to me. I explained the independent project and her response was something like, "How could you let her do that?", or something to that effect. Needless to say, the dance was an amazing success for her, me, the dancers, and the students and their families...and hopefully the wife of the head of school.


  1. Hi Patricia,
    Thanks so much for your information,very interesting.
    I wonder if they were bought in China or if they were sold here in England,either way I bet they have a story to tell!


Post a Comment