A St. Thomas artist captures the Caribbean spirit.
WHEN YOU PULL INTO PORT IN
St. Thomas, no doubt you’ll be tempted by all the duty-free shopping on offer. After all, this busy Caribbean cruise port is packed with boutiques selling jewelry, watches, and fine leather goods from prestigious international brands.
But don’t let that deter you from also seeking out something locally made, a souvenir that’s been crafted with care by artisans such as Gina Feddersen, whose Isola Bella line of art, jewelry, and lifestyle products captures the Caribbean spirit and the beauty of island life. Here, Gina tells us about her work, the challenges she faces as a Caribbean-based artist, and the transformative power of creativity.
From There to Here:
“I grew up on Long Island, New York, where I studied visual art. My passion for fine art and curating spaces led me to open a small art gallery in Bristol, Rhode Island, where my husband’s employer was based. Coincidentally, he’s a St. Thomian who I met while I was living temporarily on the island, and after we got together we began traveling the globe for his work as an America’s Cup designer. In between, we bought a plot of land on St. Thomas, built our first home, and had a baby. And when we relocated to St. Thomas 11 years ago, that was when my other baby, Isola Bella, was born.”
“My art is inspired by nature, sea, island lifestyle, and the simple pleasures of everyday. I enjoy working with clay and painting in watercolor and oils, translating my fine art into wearable accessories, home goods, and stationery collections.”
Feeling the Love:
“The creative process for me is all about how it makes my inner spirit feel. There are some ideas that never make it past the drawing board, but the concepts that do are the ones that excite me the most at that time in my life. I have to feel that positive energy and excitement for it to work. That’s when I know it’s worthy of becoming a new product or collection.”
“When hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in September 2017, many shops and hotels closed. Mail was severely delayed, and with no Internet and spotty cell service, maintaining my online business, IsolaBellaShop.com, became a challenge. But since the storm I’ve been so humbled and overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve received via social media. [I realize that] you can’t give up on what you’ve worked so hard on for so long. I stayed my course. And staying creative healed me.”
Joy to the World:
“I feel very lucky to be able to follow my bliss working as a full-time artist and small business owner on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I get to create for others and spread a little visual joy.”
Here and Now:
“I’m currently working in collaboration with RaniflyBikini.com on a Virgin Islands collection of towels, swimsuits, and yoga wear that features my watercolor map art paintings.”