- Article and Photos by Cindy Scarleth Castro (Mejia) -Belize Does A Flash Back On Its Independence Through The Eyes Of The Lens - Belize 35 A big banner illustrating a sculpted faithful man, Belize’s Founding Father, George Cadle Price sitting on top of the symbolic national tapir carved by Sculptor Santiago Cal and the signature colorful letters that reads “Belize 35” is what boasts the entrance at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C.
With this beautiful banner it is enough to lure you inside the room that hosts an extensive amount of pictures that hang from the very white pristine walls with such charm and pride. Once you make your way in you will find yourself indulged in the sequence of events that occurred that very historical day on September 21, 1981 captured by fellow Belizean Photojournalist Karl E. Villanueva, as well as beautiful pieces of wood-work carved by Sculptor Santiago Cal.
The Exhibit titled “Belize 35” reveals many fascinating pictures; Amongst them are: pictures of the Royal Bank which was then transformed into a shining beacon for Independence celebrations; The Supreme Court of Belize; Motorcade Below Paslow; Soldiers folding the Union Jack; Boom and Chime - a popular band known for “Belizean Brukdown”; A picture of Prince Michael, Duke of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent graciously saluting Belizeans; Barclays Bank; Treasury Building; Edward Seaga from Jamaica and political leaders from the region; The famous Albert Street full of Belizeans celebrating independence and the unblemished pieces of wood-work that narrates a story of its own.
Furthermore, let me tell you, as a young Belizean and new generation of this vigorous democratic nation. I could not be happier to be able to experience, learn and appreciate our cultures historical past events through the eyes of the lens. For that reason, I was imbued with a revolutionary ardor while walking through the pieces that told a story from the past. My first impression as I walked into this room where all the pictures basically spoke for themselves, was “WOW” I felt nostalgic, but proud to have the privilege to go back in time , to one, if not, the most important day of Belizean history—our independence from Great Britain.
I believe that this Art exhibition was also a historical moment for our nation because it is a huge accomplishment for both Karl E. Villanueva and Santiago Cal to have such picturesque works being featured internationally.
I wanted to know more, I had more questions that I wanted to have answered so I took it upon myself to reach out to one of these exemplary men who have opened the door for our nation to keep growing and be known. So, I was able to get a hold of Photojournalist Karl Villanueva also President of the The Foundation for the Preservation of Belizean History and Culture. It was indeed my lucky day. I spoke to Karl Villanueva via telephone where we had a very in insightful conversation about Belize and its history. I was smitten with his intelligence and passion for the history and development he has for our nation.
As our conversation progressed, I asked, is this your very first time your pictures were exhibited in a museum internationally? Mr. Villanueva responded, ‘this indeed is the first time that these pictures I took thirty five years ago were legitimately exposed internationally.” He also mentioned, that his late son, Mark Villanueva, was the one that encouraged him to showcase these beautiful pictures as he told his dad “these are the best pictures you have ever taken” as a result this encouraged him to start working on the project of exhibiting his work in Museums. As well as his friend Owen Leroy who specializes in Museums was a big support who played a big role in having him share these masterful digital rare photos at the Art Museum of the America’s in Washington, D.C.
Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States His Excellency Nestor Mendez, Mr. Karl Villanueva President of the Foundation for the Preservation of Belizean History and Culture, His Excellency Ambassador Patrick Andrews Ambassador to the U.S and OAS, Mr. Andres Navias Director of the Art Museum of the Americas at Opening Reception for Belize 35
Mr. Villanueva expressed, that these photos cannot be found in the Belize Museum just yet, because these were very old pictures that he had to work very hard with Dama Image Co. to remaster them beautifully. But, his goal is to have his forty pieces of pictures to end up as a permanent collection at the Museum of Belize. He commented, that he plans to take this Art Exhibit on a tour to major cities throughout the U.S such as New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami just to name a few, where there is a majority of the Belizean population. As well as Universities, Embassies and Schools. Lastly, he also plans to take the tour back to Belize this year.
If you are Belizean abroad living in one of these cities where this beautiful Art Exhibit will be next, I encourage you to visit the Museum where it will be displayed. We need to support our own and be a part of the growth and history of our country. I promise, you will have no regrets!
Cindy Scarleth Castro (Mejia) at the 35-Year Independence Anniversary Exhibit
WASHINGTON, DC – The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Belize to the OAS presents an exhibition celebrating the 35th anniversary of the nation’s independence. For this exhibition, sculptor Santiago Cal and photojournalist Karl Villanueva commemorate the 35th anniversary of Belize’s independence. Belize 35 is exemplary of AMA’s mission of highlighting artwork promoting human rights, democracy, and peace as core values of the Organization of American States, in support of the autonomy of nations as well as the global cooperation under which each nation may thrive.
AMA | ART MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS
Organization of American States
201 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
35-year Independence Anniversary Exhibit
Opened: February 11, 2016
On view February 11 - March 13, 2016
Woodwork and sculptures by Santiago Cal