Vargas wins McCoy Prize

Local artisan Twyla Vargas whooped in delight last Thursday week, when it was announced that she had not only garnered the coveted McCoy Prize Fine Craft award, but also the Best In Show.

The McCoy Prize, now in its sixth year, is an annual art award that aims to encourage and reward excellence in Caymanian art.

Ms. Vargas – who garnered the awards for her Mancala Game Board – has entered the prize religiously for the past three years.

‘I am overjoyed – I could hardly sleep that night,’ Ms Vargas said.

‘All I could think was I did it. All that hard work and late nights paid off.’

When asked if she was surprised to win, Ms. Vargas admitted she was quietly confident.

‘I put all I had into the piece. It took a lot of effort, but I did feel positive. However, it was a real shock to win two awards. Now that I wasn’t expecting.’

The Mancala Game Board, complete with matching stools, measures just over four feet and is carved out of seaside mahoe, or sea hibiscus, a hard wood commonly found along Cayman’s beaches.

‘I chose to make a giant Mancala Game Board as it is a game I often play with family and friends,’ Ms Vargas said.

‘Once I had made the game board, I realised it wouldn’t look right without matching stools, so I set to work on making some.’

Set up by the North Side McCoy family in 2001, the McCoy Prize is administered by the National Museum and endorsed by the Cayman Islands Traditional Arts Council.

Commenting on Twyla’s double victory, prize creator, Harris McCoy III, said: ‘Twyla has left us all speechless this year with realizing her artistic passion into not just functional works of art, but also letting us see closer that there is beauty in every aspect of our daily lives.

‘Caymanians are very gifted people, and Twyla as a Bodden Towner shows that talent is not limited to any one community of these islands. I hope the Bodden Towners celebrate with Twyla as she deserves it all for such hard work and dedication to her artistic passion.’

Other winners announced on the night were Nickola McCoy-Snell, who scooped the Fine Art award, which she also won in 2001. Sheree Ebanks won the award for Fine Photography, a consecutive year win for the local photographer.

‘The McCoy Prize sets the standard each year and we were delighted to see the return of Sheree and Nickola as winners, who both continue to follow their passion, which shows in each of their unique and provocative pieces,’ Mr. McCoy said.

‘Nickola sets a new standard for all fine art in the Cayman Islands – daring, engaging, and yet, with a statement all of its own.

‘Sheree has touched our soul and visual minds once again with her photography entry depicting Cayman’s mangroves. It is the perfect example of how a ‘picture can say a million words’,’ Mr. McCoy said.

Following the awards ceremony, guests had the opportunity to view all 30 submitted works of art, which are currently on display at the National Museums Support Facility, located at Passadora Place,.

Still to be announced is the People’s Choice award. Visitors to the exhibition can vote for their favourite piece. The winner will be announced on Thursday, 14 February.

All winning pieces are added to the McCoy Collection, part of the National Collection, for future generations to enjoy.

The exhibition, which runs through 27 February, is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm, Saturdays 10am to 2pm.