Chalana Brown is a photographer and a committed Steward of Culture on St. Croix. She started photography in 2014. At the time there were economic woes on the island, and Chalana started using photography as a way of dealing with stress. At first, Chalana started taking portraits but then started focusing on women and culture as her main subject. Since women have played a large role in her family it was one of the main factors that compelled her to focus on this subject matter. As a child, Chalana watched women like her mother going to the stores on Saturdays wearing a madras head tie or her grandmother turning fungi at home wearing her madras headband. Only later in her life, she realized the importance of the everyday practices that demonstrate the richness and beauty of VI culture.
Chalana, believes that being surrounded by that rich crucian culture, photography plays a major role in documenting this cultural history of our ever-changing island.
Chalana, was also able to get her work on Viya’s telephone directory book twice with the second one being the latest issue. The woman she used to photograph is Ms. Asta Williams – a well-known storyteller and musician who holds the songs of our Caribbean folk music. Members of the community see her value and contributions.
This year, Chalana has taken a position a the Cultural Education Director at the Department of Education and is focused on this year’s upcoming events. She will be playing a major role in creating campaigns demonstrating cultural awareness and events that showcase the beauty of St. Croix’s rich history.
During COVID lockdown Chalana decided to dress up and visit historical spaces. After a cosmic experience while visiting the Castle Coakley Sugar Mill, she was inspired to view these historical sites on a deeper level. Her latest project Claiming Spaces: The African Story of the Sugar Mill can be seen at the Caribbean Museum of the Arts in Frederiksted
Chalana declares she does not know everything, but sees her art projects as a life journey learning new things, but not forgetting the past.