When two category 5 hurricanes slammed the U.S. Virgin Islands just two weeks apart this September, the storms devastated vital infrastructure in the territory home to more than 100,000 Americans. But the 200-mph winds also decimated foliage with the efficiency of a plague of locusts. The island paradise to which, for decades, millions have flocked to say wedding vows or simply vacation under the bright Caribbean sun amid dazzling blue water and lush greenery dotted with colorful flowers was left temporarily stripped of vegetation, the water clouded by runoff.
“The most heartbreaking thing for me,” said Savanna Goodman, a photographer and longtime resident of St. Thomas, “was that the colors were gone from the flowers, the trees, the water, along with my job, my apartment, and my entire routine.”
Goodman responded with “Our Colors Will Not Fade,” a photo series that showcases the bright colors of Carnival costumes against the stark backdrop of the wreckage. The photos highlight the vibrancy ingrained in the culture of the USVI, and the islanders’ indelible resilience. “The people of the Virgin Islands are what makes this place so special. The water is already clearing, and the trees will be green again,” she said. “We’re still here, glowing like always. I hope that I was able to capture that, and that’s what we really need the world to see.”
“I’ve done Carnival makeup for many different troupes over the years. I was excited when Savanna approached me with this idea because it was a chance to do something creative again, something other than haul debris.” - Shary Cruz, who did makeup and costuming on the project. You can find more of her work on her Instagram page.
“Although I'm saddened by the destruction that has taken place and how it has affected myself and those I love, I am optimistic that we can rebuild and make this beautiful Caribbean gem better than it was before.” -Crystal Maree, model.
“My V.I. culture cannot be contained; it cannot be dimmed by tragedy. The colors of the Carnival costumes we wear are a direct representation of our spirits. They will not fade; they will not falter. They will bloom in the face of adversity. I will bloom in the face of adversity.” - Nicole Smith, model.
“Something like this keeps me positive somehow because we have the greatest thing of all and that for many of us islanders is hope. In a time when you think everything would tear us apart, it’s actually brought us all together!” -Meagan Ann Bryan, model.
“As we continue forward we will not stop growing, strengthening, and blooming our cultures colors more beautifully vibrant than ever. Our Colors will not fade.” -Natalie Harris, model.
This is just a small selection of the photos in Goodman’s series. For more from “Our Colors Will Not Fade,” you can follow the photographer on Facebook and Instagram. To help out with recovery efforts in the USVI financially or otherwise visit the Virgin Islands Relief Fund.