There are no words to describe the devastation and suffering taking place right now on Haiti. Rocked by an earthquake of catastrophic proportions, the already troubled Caribbean nation desperately needs the aid, support, and compassion of the world. And it seems like we’re really coming through for them! I just read that an incredible $8 million dollars have been donated via the Red Cross text message system alone. I was one of them, but I wish I could do so much more.
It is far too heartbreaking to write about the harrowing images on the news, the stories of dead bodies piling up, frightened children trapped under rubble, people in desperate need of food, water, and medical care. I have turned away from the TV three times already, crying and shaken. I can’t handle it. So what I will do instead is mention that we have a large Haitian community here in New York and they have been an integral part of our melting pot city for many, many years. Absolutely warm and wonderful people.
During a dark time like this, it’s important to remember that Haiti is much more than a destitute nation that has suffered immeasurably throughout its history with extreme poverty, natural disasters, and corrupt government. They are, first and foremost, a proud people. A culture. A nation whose history is inextricably tied to America’s history. A long-independent country full of resilient citizens . . . citizens with dreams, visions, talents, and passions, and the collective strong will to pull through this current horrific tragedy. They will. I am certain of it.
Haitian art is believed to have reached its pinnacle in the 1960s and 70s, although from my research it is definitely still going strong. Its styles and genres encompass everything from Impressionism to Cubism to Realism, figurative and abstract, and address subjects ranging from native island life and traditions, politics, spirituality, landscape, nature and animals. Haitian art comes in a variety of media, from oil to watercolor to sculpture. Like the people themselves, their artistic expression is rich and deep and imaginative.
Artists everywhere, not just in Haiti, should be impressed with the wonderful Carlo Jean-Jacques. A native of Port-au-Prince, he clearly projects the influence of Cezanne in his paintings of Haitian daily life and its people. This is Le Repas, from 1994:
Jean Rene Jerome was born in Haiti in 1942. A man of many creative talents, he studied at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. His work has been exhibited around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum here in New York. One of his many enchanting female nudes, this is Goddess, from 1970:
Kesnel Franklin was born in Au Cayes, Haiti in 1945. I love this painting from 1970, Jeunne Fille a la Riviere:
Paul Beauvoir was a prominent figure in the history of Haitian art, and he used both line and color in truly magnificent ways. This acrylic work is titled Nightfall:
I found all the images for this post on the the terrific Haitian Painting site, and what a difficult task it was to make selections! So much extraordinary Haitian art to choose from. Do visit the site to see more art and read artists’ biographies. Also check out the Haitian Art Gallery.