A paint brush helped a Haitian artist heal after earthquake

Philippe Dodard is a prominent, internationally recognized Haitian artist who works in Port-au-Prince. Dodard couldn’t pick up a paint brush in the month following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Many of his friends perished as a result of the disaster, and he found himself having no reaction when he would get calls about a new death.

Dodard is participating in Haiti Art Expo 2010, an event taking place this weekend in Miami, Florida. The collection features works by Dodard and many other Haitian artists, as well as American artists. All of the proceeds from the sales of these works will go toward refugees and artists who have lost their homes because of the earthquake.

Dodard sees art as a way of dealing with and healing from devastation of the January 12 earthquake. He helped create a program for thousands of children called Plas Timoun, meaning “place for the children,” which allows kids to express themselves through artistic activities such as painting, music, and theater, in addition to sports and games. The classrooms are converted buses at two locations in Port-au-Prince and serve children ages 6 to 10.

“I spend most of my time working with the children so that they recover from the disaster using art,” he said.

He also said “After the earthquake, there were so many problems, so much to carry, and still keep on living and still keep on doing your work”.
These paintings and sculptures tell the story and aspirations of a people who survived severe hardships.

The work blends spiritual references from Japanese, Haitian, and Indian cultures, and includes Dodard’s interests in the traditions of samurai and yoga. The color red represents the spirit of fire, Dodard said, and the texture of the painting gives a “feeling of something vibrating,” he said, “the silent vibration of the drum.” He tried to capture something magical that goes beyond the shapes themselves, he said.

Haiti Art Expo 2010 opens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Miami’s Mosaic Building, and is hosted by Venus Williams (tennis superstar), Andrea Berto (Haitian-born World Welterweight championship boxer), Fabrice and Patrick Tardieu (of the clothing line Bogosse) and Jerry Powers (of PlumTV). It was produced and organized by Michael Capponi and Jeff Feldman, who have both been active in helping relief efforts in Haiti.

Haitian art came into its own slowly and its genesis goes back very far, well before the emergence of the Haitian people, before the arrival of slave ships and the caravels of Columbus, in the marvelous paintings realized by the Taino Indians on the walls of caves and the colored graphics they made on their naked bodies and the walls of their huts.

The Haitian art world suffered great losses in the earthquake. Museums and art galleries were extensively damaged, among them Port-au-Prince’s main art museum, Centre d’Art, where many art works were destroyed. The collection at College Saint Pierre also was devastated, as was the collection of priceless murals in the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Sources:
1804 Times
Cable News Network (CNN)

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