Sir Dunstan St. Omer
Sir Dunstan St. Omer is regarded as Saint Lucia’s leading artist with his works for many decades receiving international recognition. Born in Saint Lucia in 1927, St. Omer was educated in the local schools where his artistic talents were recognized, particularly during his secondary school years at St. Mary’s College. He later went to Puerto Rico for further study and development of his craft. As well as being known for his artistic production over many decades, Sir Dunstan worked with the Ministry of Education as an art specialist for over 30 years remaining there until retirement in 2000. While at the Ministry he was credited with initiating a programme to incorporate the art of painting into the educational curriculum at the infant and primary school levels, which has been credited for developing a whole new generation of local painters. Sir Dunstan is very well known locally for his murals, which are featured in a number of Catholic churches in Saint Lucia. One of the best known is the figure of a black Christ seen at the Fond St. Jacques Church near Soufriere. The murals have drawn both acclaim and criticism for his depictions of black divinity. Sir Dunstan’s lifelong artistic endeavors have brought him numerous honours. When Saint Lucia became an independent nation in 1979, Sir Dunstan was given the honour of designing the new flag. He was awarded a Papal Medal by the Catholic Church and the Saint Lucia Cross by the Saint Lucia government on the occasion of the island’s 25th Anniversary. In 2007 the Folk Research Centre declared him a National Cultural Hero. These accolades were followed in 2009 by his receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the West Indies; in 2010 Dunstan St. Omer was awarded a Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the arts in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean, and the world at large. Sir Dunstan and his wife have nine children with two sons, Luigi and Julio, following in his footsteps as a well-known local artists.