Meet Cover Artist LaVaughn Belle

Meet Cover Artist LaVaughn Belle“I was born in a small village in Tobago called Moriah and moved to St. Thomas when I was just five months old and later to St. Croix when I was seven. And although I am of Barbadian and Tobagonian parentage I am definitely a Crucian.
I was that kid in class who could draw. I had the same art teacher, Leo Carty, from second to twelfth grade and he would often ask me to help out other students. He encouraged me to be an artist. But it wasn’t until my junior year at Columbia University while taking a painting class that I decided I wanted to be an artist. The problem was that I had already switched from Pre-Med to an English major and couldn’t switch majors again. So after graduation I began teaching and it took a few years to figure out how I would transition to being an artist. I moved back home to St. Croix as a part of that transition.
Not long after, however, I realized that I wanted a more formal education so I researched places in the Caribbean to possibility study. I learned about a school in Cuba that had all of the artistic disciplines on one campus, went there for a summer in 2001 and liked it so much that, six months later, I moved there indefinitely and completed a Master’s degree at el Instituto Superior de Arte, el ISA, in 2005.
Since then I have shown my work regionally throughout the Caribbean, the USA and Europe. My art has evolved from figurative and symbolic explorations in painting to variety of modes that include video, performance, installation and public intervention projects. My most current work is centered around creating narratives that challenge post-colonial hierarchies. An example of that is in my work “The Planter’s Chair,” (February Cover) a performance art piece that invites people to take portraits in the ultimate power chair of the colonial system. I also often work with the material vocabulary of colonialism, like in my recent chaney paintings. These are large scale paintings (March Cover) that fuse the images from the pottery fragments that are found in the ground as a way to talk about Caribbean society and how we construct narratives from broken fragments and histories.
In addition to my studio practice I teach at the University of the Virgin Islands and own a few businesses with my husband, Rivert Diaz: a Latin dance studio, House of Clave, and a guesthouse, Trumpetbush Manor. When I first bought my studio in 2011, it was an abandoned burnt out drug den. I had no idea about the history of the building which dates from the late 1700’s or the neighborhood. When I learned more, I was compelled to do a documentary on the history and the renovation entitled, “The House That Freedom Built,” which references the Free Gut community of formerly enslaved Africans that owned and lived in the house. The documentary is currently in the final stages of editing and updates can be seen on the blog and website.
My work can currently be seen on my website, during open studios at Art Thursday or by appointment. I have an upcoming exhibition with two other artists at the Top Hat Gallery on March 3 and a large solo show of the Chaney paintings later in 2016″.
Meet Cover Artist LaVaughn BelleLa Vaughn Belle
La Vaughn Belle Studio
18B East Street Christiansted
(between Prince & Market Street)
Facebook: La Vaughn Belle Studio

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