The Art Museum of the Americas (operated by the Organization of American States) is hosting an exhibit entitled “On Common Ground: The Dominican Republic and Haiti.” The most interesting aspect of the exhibition is actually the commentary by the Dominican and Haitian artists. It is refreshing to hear Dominicans and Haitians elevate what they have in common, including a love of art and music. Each country would benefit from cultural exchanges with its neighbor. More from the artists follows:
Below is an article by Trenton Daniel (AP) concerning a beautification project, inspired by Haitian artist Prefete Duffaut, in the neighborhood of Jalousie. Plans are underway to include additional neighborhoods. The initiative is not without controversy - slums in Port au Prince have many other needs including water, security, and jobs. Still, Haiti is a colorful country with a vibrant artistic tradition that Jalousie increasingly reflects.
The Grand Rue Sculptors will hold the second Ghetto Biennale Art Festival from the end of November through early December. Film-makers, academics, photographers, musicians, architects, and writers will converge on Grand Rue to make and display Vodoun infused art with themes of survival, resistance, and redemption. If you cannot attend, check out the individual artists and their work online. Details and a draft schedule below.
Below is a guest blog from Nina Persi, an art student who visited Haiti to document the lives of orphans living in Saint Joseph facilities in/around Port au Prince and Jacmel. Having returned to Pennsylvania, she is using her photos to raise awareness about vulnerable children in Haiti (of which there are many) and to raise funds for the Saint Joseph Family, an organization doing exceptional work caring for them. More information on her trip, the Saint Joseph Family, and how you can get involved follows.
I finally got around to watching the No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince. While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti. He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track. You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube.
Port au Prince lost many of its architectural landmarks in the earthquake. One of these was the Iron Market. While the market was hot and crowded, it was also full of energy. One cannot help but miss it. Half of the market was for vendors selling Vodoun flags, paintings and other works of art. The other side was an entrepeneurial free for all where you could find just about anything. The CNN article below notes that, while it will take years, the Iron Market will be rebuilt. Hopefully it will be bigger, stronger, and safer.
“Are you a Missionary? What is Your Religion?” Two common enough questions when Haitians are getting to know foreigners. Haiti is a religious country and even the smallest villages have multiple churches if not a library or a clinic. While every imaginable denomination has a presence in Haiti, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Vodoun form an uneasy trinity. Haitian Vodoun is a vibrant, fascinating religion. One need not be a Vodouisant to experience it, appreciate it, and learn from it.
The Cine Institute is Haiti's only film school. Its students have produced everything from commericals to documentaries. The Institute, which is in Jacmel, took heavy losses during the earthquake but continued to operate. The students produced video reports, assisted visiting journalists, and helped distribute relief supplies. Click here to see video clips of the students in action and reporting on the earthquake's consequences for Jacmel. As Annie Nocenti, a Cine Institute instructor puts it, "We were a film school until yesterday. Our new mission is to do recovery stories...hopefully stories of Haitians rebuilding." Below is a thank you letter from the Institute to its partners.
Although one would not know it from most mass media coverage of Haiti, it is a beautiful, little country. For that reason, I was happy to read Amy Wilentz's excellent article in Conde Naste. She describes her own love affair with Haiti and then lists where a person can stay and play. As I read it, I thought of all the things I miss about Haiti - the sandy beaches, drinking rum punch, listening to racine music, going to vodoun ceremonies, napping on straw mats, talking on porches, as well as the countryside camraderie and never-ending jokes and pranks. For some, it is time to visit Haiti for the first time. For many of us, it is time to go back.