Oct 28, 2010

Painting for Haiti

As I plan to return to Haiti, I am getting more involved in what people can do for Haiti from the United States.  Groups traveling to the country are currently doing a lot economically for the country -- employing construction workers, maids, cooks, security guards, drivers, etc -- as well as emotionally.  The Haitians told us that seeing us there remind them that they are not alone and that the world has not forgotten about them.  We have the time and resources to do things they cannot yet, such as make over 400 sandwiches for kids in the tents, play with the kids, buy supplies for benches.  However, eventually, we want Haiti to stand on its own without anyone having to come from foreign countries.

This is a big task.  The first step I'm taking is attempting getting Sony's (the tent city artist) work on worldofgood.com.  We are in the last phases of doing so (we're working on getting approval from our chosen trust provider).

The second step is making a logo for the new trade school Ecole Professionnelle MEN NAN MEN that's being built.  Here's the first sketch:

The next step is raising funds.  Things in Haiti are only getting worse as the cholera outbreak spreads. I've created these paintings to show at the Rutger's Haiti fundraiser in Newark Saturday.  All the pieces combine scenes from Haiti that I saw with the drawings that people made during VBS.  I would love to paint more murals with more people from the tent city who are still jobless as a productive and creative way to stimulate their minds.

This was a tilted house in Port-Au-Prince.  The flowers and "I love you" were parts of a drawing made by a little girl in the tent city.

Here you see the Presidential Palace, a common theme of Haitian artists' pieces.  I added a woman carrying a basket of fruit on her head with a little boy holding her hand; a talented man named Andre drew a picture incorporating the mother and the boy.  They seemed perfect for this painting.

I call this one the band-aide tree.  The building was a bank in Port-Au-Prince, and the tree was designed by a woman in the tent city.  I thought it would look beautiful on this building if we could paint it there!

You see abandoned cars and machinery on the side of Haitian roads all the time.  They often seem strange in contrast with the almost unearthly, stunning sunsets that occur at nights.  I expanded the idea of putting Haitian designs on buildings or walls to making them "live" in the setting of the painting.

This piece shows the children in the middle of a game of limbo.  Instead of putting in the stick we used as a limbo bar, I added these bright shapes that some small children created which better express their joy and fun during the games than any other background.

Another building in Port-Au-Prince.  Another beautiful Haitian tree.

This piece may turn into diptych.  I wanted to address the issue of houses and building in Haiti.  Most people who died in the quake died because houses were constructed poorly.  You may see one building totally destroyed next to one that's standing perfectly upright.  The red house you see in the foreground was drawn by a woman whose dream was to have a house with one light, two chairs, a window, and a table. Very different from our American dream...

To learn more about what is being done to change the way things are built in Haiti, check out Peter Haas' site: http://www.aidg.org/
He was kind enough to put Fond Parisien on his waiting list for teaching masons...thank you, Peter!

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