Yesterday was International Women’s Day. In an effort to honor the 100th anniversary of this powerful day, I took three moments of silence to remember and honor the young Haitian women I met while visiting KOFAVIV, an organization that supports women and girls who have experienced violence. I met these amazing creative young ladies during my Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on February 26. A very special digital sisterhood moment happened during my visit. One of the young Haitian women and I really connected. We had some great conversations about her life and mine. Before I left, she asked me for my email so we could stay in touch. I promised her that I would stay in touch. This week I am planning to write her a short email that includes the photos we took together. Isn’t digital sisterhood great!
I have always adored quilts. My grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin crocheted many beautiful quilts that later inspired my own wire sculpture quilts and wall hangings. While I was in Haiti with the Heart of Haiti Campaign on February 26, I witnessed the creative quilting power of Haitian women who work with PeaceQuilts, an organization co-founded by Jeanne Staples that teaches Haitian women quilting skills at the College Marie Reine Immaculee, a convent operated by a soulful order of nuns called Les Filles de
Reine Marie Immaculee d’Haiti. PeaceQuilts launched a Haitian national initiative to translate Haiti’s long tradition of fine needlework into quilting right after the January 2010 earthquake. Macy’s created a Heart of Haiti partnership with PeaceQuilts to produce a line of handmade quilted pot holders, pillows, and similar items. Click here to learn more about PeaceQuilts. Check out more of my Flickr photos here from the convent visit.
Tomorrow evening I am experimenting with a new social media tool (at least for me) called Vokle during my live chat about my Heart of Haiti trip at 8:00 pm ET. Drop by and participate in the the video chat. You can use the hashtag #HeartofHaiti to follow the conversation. I will be sharing the books that helped me prepare for the trip, highlights from my trip, showing artwork I purchased from the Heart of Haiti artisans, and answering questions about my Haiti adventures. Click here to join the live chat. You can also register for it. Feel free to watch it live tomorrow on my web site’s home page.
PS: The live chat will not be recorded! Vokle does NOT provide this service:(! So I guess that means I will have to host a Digital Sisterhood Radio show about my trip and invite the bloggers who attended to be guests later this month. Stay tuned for the date and time (it will happen!).
When I checked into the Hotel Oloffson with my fellow Heart of Haiti “tripsters” in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on February 25, 2011, I was mesmerized by the beautiful artwork in the main hotel and my hotel room. Check out the videos below. Click here to see Flickr photos of the artwork.
One of the highlights of my Heart of Haiti trip was a visit to Voodoo flag artist Jean Paul Baptiste’s shop in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti on February 26, 2011. The video above features many Voodoo flags. I was in heaven when I saw the flags with the Haitian goddess of love Erzulie and La Sirene, a Haitian goddess of the seas who appears as a mermaid. Click here to see all of the photos on Flickr.
My first carnival experience happened during my Heart of Haiti trip on February 27 in Jacmel, Haiti. It was “belle bagay” (a Kreyol word that means fabulous, fantastic, it was cool etc.). The papermache artwork and masks, music, food, and lively crowds of people filled with “joie de vivre” (joy of living) made it a special experience. Watch my videos and see photos below. Click here to see all of my photos from the Jacmel Carnival.
Today, I am remembering my Heart of Haiti visit to Haitian metal artisan Serge Jolimeau’s atelier on February 26, 2011, in Croix des Bouquets, a town located outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. See the video above. At first glance, I fell in love with Jolimeau’s artwork featuring La Sirene, a beautiful African-inspired mermaid and Haitian loa who rules the seas with her husband Agwe. La Sirene brings luck and money from the ocean’s depth were she makes her own music. She adores objects of beauty, jewelry, gold and diamonds. She is also a seductress like Haitian loa Erzulie Freda and dangerously fierce like Haitian loa Erzulie Dantor. Erzulie is the goddess of love and one of my all time favorite Haitian goddesses. Mermaids have always been some of my favorites (on my first night in Port-au-Prince, I purchased two paintings featuring La Sirene – see photo). La Sirene and Erzulie show up in my own paintings, wire sculptures and books!
Did you know that Jolimeau’s metal artwork is made from oil cans? What a powerful way to recycle and recreate beauty!
His artwork reflects his family’s farming background, fertile imagination, and passion for Haitian Voodoo and folklore, the human body, animals, and figures from mythology. It is featured and sold in the Heart of Haiti collection at Macy’s.
About Serge Jolimeau:
Jolimeau, a native of Croix des Bouquets, was born in 1952. Croix des Bouquets is the home of several great Haitian sculptors including the late Georges Liautaud and Murat Brierre, the brothers Louisjuste, and Gabriel Bien-Aimé. As a child, he as inspired by the blacksmiths in his village. After he completed high school, he worked as an apprentice under metal sculptor Serisier Louisjuste. His work has been published in Where Art is Joy (Rodman, 1988), Forgerons duVodou/ Voodoo Blacksmiths (Foubert, 1990), and A Haitian Celebration: Art and Culture (Stebich, 1992). He has shown his work at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, LACITA in Biarritz, France, and in Germany, Haiti, and Mexico. Currently, he serves as a community leader for the Association of Artists and Artisans of Croix des Bouquets. To learn more about Jolimeau, visit the links below.
About the Heart of Haiti:
The Heart of Haiti campaign is a partnership between Fairwinds Trading, Macy’s, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. It was created to provide sustainable income to Haitian artisans impacted by the January 2010 earthquake. Through the partnership, the artisans create artwork that is sold as the Heart of Haiti collection in Macy’s stores. The sales from these hand-made products including quilts, metalwork, paper måché, painting and jewelry generate the sustainable income and provide trade instead of aid to the Haitian artisans.
February 26, my second day in Haiti, began with a visit to the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince. As the van pulled up in front of the Palace, I heard the sound of a marching band. Men dressed in matching band uniforms played beautiful music as I surveyed the earthquake damage. I looked across the street and saw the tent camps in Champ de Mars plaza and wondered how could music be made in the midst of heartbreaking devastation. The answer came in the form of a six-word memoir equation as I noticed Haitian people moving through their morning with grace and dignity. Faith + Hope + Determination + Resiliency + Creativity = HAITI.
Watch a video of my visit to the Presidential Palace and Champ de Mars Plaza, the location of the largest tent camp in Port-au-Prince. See below. Listen to my audio blog about the visit. Check out photos from my visit below.
The Heart of Haiti campaign is a partnership between Fairwinds Trading, Macy’s, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. It was created to provide sustainable income to Haitian artisans impacted by the January 2010 earthquake. Through the partnership, the artisans create artwork that is sold as the Heart of Haiti collection in Macy’s stores. The sales from these hand-made products including quilts, metalwork, paper måché, painting and jewelry generate the sustainable income and provide trade instead of aid to the Haitian artisans. Everywhere, a social media firm that represents Macy’s, sponsored my trip to Haiti. Click here to read about my trip’s details.
Photos from Visit to Presidential Palace and Champ de Mar Plaza
Happy March All!
I hope your first day of March is filled with many blessings. Mine has been filled with the blessing of memories from my recent trip to Haiti as a blogger ambassador for the Heart of Haiti campaign. The Heart of Haiti campaign is a partnership between Fairwinds Trading, Macy’s, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
As many of you may know, I was in Haiti with a dynamic group of nine digital sisters and one digital brother from February 25-28. My trip was sponsored by Everywhere, a social media company that represents Macy’s. The trip allowed me to visit Port-au-Prince, Croix des Bouquets, and Jacmel. So many wonderful things happened. That’s why I am going to take my time in posting photos, videos, and audio blogs about my travel experiences this week and next week. I thought you might like to watch a video of me sharing what I learned from being in Haiti. See below. It was filmed on February 28 in Jacmel, Haiti. For more updates on the Heart of Haiti trip, click here. Enjoy!