On Easter Monday, while chasing down a particular story at the Bay Walk shopping mall it occurred to me that I had been given a bum steer. Oh but an unexpected discovery more than made up for my disappointment: right there on the sidewalk in front of the mall a group of small children, some barely four-years-old, had painted several attractive murals that they referred to as “sidewalk art”—not to be confused with street graffiti.
The children were engaged in “a coordinated expression of their inner artistic selves,” at any rate that was how a fellow appreciator put it.
The young artists had been brought together for their sidewalk-decorating activity by the School of Art and Design Saint Lucia, of which I had not heard until Easter Monday. I soon set out to learn more.
Signa Greaves-Francis turned out to be the founder and president of the school started here in 2011. She comes from an artistic family. Her mother and aunt all having been involved in local fashion and costumery.
Noted Saint Lucian carnival and fashion designer Sean Greaves is Signa’s uncle. “Art is something that has always been in my family,” she confirmed. “For my part, I studied graphic design in Miami, Fla. and this is something I have always wanted to do.”
The school started out as a summer arts program. “We later introduced 2D animation and graphic design, a youth studio program,” Signa explained, “and right now we have what we call Kids for Arts.”
The activity on Easter Monday marked “the culmination of Youth Arts Month which was celebrated in March,” she went on. “The theme was ‘art shapes the world’ and we decided to bring the activity to a close with the first annual Chalk Art Festival to promote the school as our first public event.”
Joining the students on Monday was a mix of parents and interested members of the public. Also accounted for were representatives of ECFH, a strong supporter of the School of Art and Design Saint Lucia. Besides their “sidewalk art,” the kids also completed sculptures and other art-work using various mediums.
Since their opening the art school, located in the CARILEC Annex Building at Sans Soucis in Castries, has seen more than a hundred people come through its doors. The response, according to the directors, has been very good. The school has begun to expand and publicize its activities through social networks like Facebook. It has also recently been recognized by the newly formed Ministry of Creative Industries.
Offering certificate courses in 2D animation and graphic design, the school also offers short courses in drawing, painting, CSEC Visual Arts, Desktop publishing and design, photography, illustration and digital imaging. Special programs are also offered to young people, including the youth studio program that returns on April 15. Then there is the third annual summer program which kicks off in July, right after carnival.
Catering to individuals from age six to adults, the School of Art and Design Saint Lucia is willed on the thoughts of Michel Angelo who had observed that “the true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”