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Friday, June 25, 2010

Skullduggery designer covers new ground in mas

Sonya Sanchez Arias sees skeletons and skulls in her closets. Every one of them. In her bathroom, bedrooms, indeed every nook and cranny of her Florida, USA, home. Sanchez Arias isn’t freaking out. 

The Trinidadian-born artist/ designer/ photographer has been building Skullduggery, bone by bone and design upon design, 22 sections in all, for the Woodbrook band, which is being produced by Peter Samuel, who was crowned King of Carnival eight times in a storied career of portrayals that led Peter Minshall’s themes onto the Savannah stage and around the world.

A glance at Sanchez Arias’ pedigree reveals the human source of her creativity, her late mother Judy Sanchez having worked alongside Minshall over the years. Small wonder, Sanchez Arias, married to Cuban American photographer Fernando Arias was weaned on Kiddies Carnival Competitions in Port of Spain and San Fernando. In later years she fell to JOuvert’s spell, and following graduation with honours from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, to Minshall’s as well.

noise makers

I was so inspired by his book, Seven Deadly Sins, she says, I wanted to put images to the words. Photography without camera or models.


In August 2008, paper dresses she designed for a Florida company raised Samuel’s interest. They were so detailed, he says,I thought of her as a mas band designer.


Sanchez Arias, still mesmerized by Minshall’s Seven Deadly Sins, hit upon the theme right away. A poster came to mind. A hummingbird hovering above a skeletal hand. The image ignited a buzz on the Internet. Soon, a Facebook site started to hum. Samuel then wooed David Rudder and Pelham Goddard’s Charlie’s Roots for musical accompaniment, and Skullduggery began to thrive on the theme song, Bringing back sanity to the Mas.


A Carnival band should be like a Calypso, Samuel says. A theme, a beginning, middle and end. When I look at mas I feel sad. Bands look the same despite their themes. We’re losing the essence of the culture.


Sanchez Arias hopes to cover new ground with painstakingly imaginative designs that rein in the shenanigans, political and otherwise, in our lives.

Skullduggery launches July 4 at The Anchorage in Chaguaramas.

Costumes designed by Sonya Sanchez Arias
Band illustrations by Jolene Mattison

For further information contact Sonya Sanchez Arias at and Peter Samuel at
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