Savanna Goodman is a Pennsylvania native who has been living in the VI for the past 7 years. She describes herself as an eccentric with a unique point a view, a trait that has served her well as the owner of Alternate Aspect Photography and the idea person, coordinator and photographer behind the Our colors Will Not Fade photo shoot. After living in various places all over the states and the world she settled on St.Thomas because according to Goodman, “Everyone and everything here is vibrant and unique. I finally found where I actually fit in. “
The most striking thing she noticed after the catastrophic damage caused by the double blows from category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria, was the loss of color from the flowers, trees, and water. The devastation was absolute. Like many, she’d lost her job, her apartment, and her entire routine; but Goodman managed to save her camera. A few days after the storms Goodman reunited with friends. Drowning their sorrows over cocktails she lamented her missed opportunity to capture the beautify of the island in photographs just prior to the storms. Then something interesting happened. The ideas started flowing and the darkened mood started to lighten and lift. The conversation moved to one of gratitude for the beauty and vibrancy that could never be stripped from the VI no matter how powerful the storm.
“Its the people of the Virgin Islands that makes this place so special,” said, Goodman. “We came up with this idea to do a photoshoot of Carnival dancers in front of all the damage because Carnival is the celebration of the spirit of the Virgin Islands. We wanted to show that it’s still alive here.” That evening Goodman contacted a few other people including Virgin Islands make-up artist Shary Cruz to help collaborate on the project. “Shary was instrumental in helping to pull this all together,” said Goodman. Cruz moved to St.Thomas from Puerto Rico as a young child and with both of her island homes destroyed by the storms she felt compelled to help with the project. “I’ve done Carnival makeup for many different troupes over the years. I was excited when Savanna approached me with this idea because it was a chance to do something creative again, something other than haul debris,” said Cruz.
Within two days, they had costumes, models, makeup, the locations scouted, and a goal: to send a message to the world and fellow Virgin Islanders that no matter how dire, Our colors will not fade!
A bold statement during a somber time.
The photo shoot was a contrast in colors and emotions for everyone involved. Model Meagan Ann Bryan said “It is who we are. A group of unique, colorful, talented individual’s who are working together here and on island, still singing our song and dancing our dance. Although we may be badly bruised, we cannot be broken.”
When asked how she felt to be part of this photo shoot, model Natalie Harris commented, “Its lifted spirits. Carnival is about bringing all our islands together to fete with boldness, its when we proudly represent our culture, traditions, and colors. As we move forward in our recovery now more than ever, we will continue to strengthening and bloom.“
Since their release on Oct 2nd, the images have been shared over 1,000 times on social media inspiring comments like “You just cannot keep a Virgin Islander down.” and “Inspiring! Powerful! Positive! Hope! Strength! Perseverance! Undying Spirit!” and “Such a beautiful statement about our recovery. Shine on, VI!!”.
Ever the optimists Goodman is determined to get the message out to the rest of the world that the VI is resilient and already showing signs of recovery. “The water is clearing, and the trees will be green again. The missing power has diminished the light pollution at night and the stars are shining brighter than I’ve ever seen before. We’re still here, glowing like always. I hope that I was able to capture that in this shoot, and that’s what we really need the world to see.”
While Goodman and her group have helped to shine a light on the beauty, resilience, and optimism of Virgin Islanders, the islands themselves are desperate for financial support from the mainland. As a US territory, these islands are home to US Citizens and as such are entitled to relief and recovery support, however, with the devastation on Puerto Rico eclipsing the needs of the VI, private donations are their lifeline. It is uncertain when the next carnival will be held, attention is on day to day subsistence. Islanders like Meagan Ann Bryan are resolute, “We need all of you to help bring back paradise ….and we will rebuild with your help! Every bit in every way helps.”
Our Colors Will Not Fade has identified the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands http://www.cfvi.net/ and VI Strong www.vistrong.org as organizations they have seen in action helping with the recovery efforts in the VI following hurricanes Irma and Maria.
To see the rest of the photo shoot of Our Colors Will Not Fade follow this link. https://www.facebook.com/alternateaspect/media_set?set=a.840408778663.1073741835.175200733&type=3&pnref=story.unseen-section
With a plethora of donation sites springing up its tough to know where to put your heart and your money. WhatToDo-VI has created a page designed to help you identify what charities and groups are important to you to support.