Meet Cover Artist Elsa McKay
Elisa McKay, the youngest of eight children and a self-taught artist, grew up in Harlem, New York. After years of working and teaching in the Electronic Data Processing field, Elisa returned to college for a BA in English from the City College of NY. In 1978 she left the big city and migrated to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
Here she taught English, raised her young daughter, Ayanna, and became a caregiver/companion to her aging parents, Ogese and Hedi McKay. Her father was a musician and artist himself.
Elisa's mother not only made hats and silk flowers but sewed the majority of her eight children's clothing, detailing them with applique and embroidery and various forms of handiwork. "I learned to make my own clothes as a teenager, and I think drawing and cutting became second nature to me by watching my mother. I also did mechanical drawing for my father, when he was making furniture for a client."
"While teaching English at Central High School, I began making collage greeting cards. It was not unlike cutting patterns and making clothes. It continued as a hobby until a friend asked to purchase them. T hat was in 1980. T his "Island Paradise" with its vibrant colors, Caribbean Sea and charming people was my inspiration as I worked together African print fabric, papers, flowers, and bits of ribbon and cord combined with acrylic, gouache and watercolor, metal, and wood. Several years later, I moved to larger formats."
"The purpose of my art is to connect with my multicultural roots, but most importantly, my African/Caribbean ancestry. Being raised in the African/ Caribbean Diaspora in Harlem, exposed me to a rich culture, woven through the tapestry of my life."
"I've come home to St. Croix, the island of my parents, my multicultural roots, and my African/Caribbean ancestry. In the spirit of my ancestors, I celebrate my heritage through my art...with respect, honor, and love interpreting themes of family, community and celebration."
Find Elisa's distinctive African-Caribbean cards and collages at Cache of the Day, Many Hands, Polly's at the Pier, Undercover Books, and The Museum Store at the St. George Village Botanical Gardens on St. Croix, Bamboula on St. John, and the Owl and the Seahorse on St. Thomas. Elisa will once again be featured in the 2012 Art & Soul Calendar available in November through the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Frederiksted.
For more info visit: www.sistahart.com