“Men Anvil, Chay Pa Lou” = “Many Hands Make the Load Light”. Haitian proverb
Haiti is often a misunderstood place. Besides the poverty and squalor, there is beauty to be found amidst its incredible art and culture. When visiting Haiti, one has to keep an open mind in order to comprehend her immense problems and appreciate the good things that this country has to offer the intrepid spirit. I will not lie, travel in Haiti is difficult. However, the rewards for those who seek to visit this place are immense. Alongside the poverty and despair exists a resilience and hope in the future and a beauty that inspires through Haiti’s incredible art.
Take a walk with me and embrace the colorful, vibrant textures of Haiti.
The capital city Port-au-Prince is overcrowded, congested and chaotic yet also home to some of the greatest artisans, artists and designers in the entire country. Croix-des-Bouquets, a community on the outskirts of the capital, is home to over 1,000 metal artisans with over 60 different shops and studios creating social change and opportunity within the community. It is a magical, happy place filled with energy and life.
Croix-des-Bouquets is also home world-famous beadwork artist and Vodou priest Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph. Some of his beadwork sells in the thousands of dollars to the rich and famous. His studio is a magical, spiritual place filled with so much colorful beadwork and art that it leaves you dizzy with inspiration.
Leaving Croix-des-Bouquets, you will find lots of other studios and art centers around town. If you want high-end leather goods, stop by Pascale’s divine studio and shop, Pascale Théard Creations and you will be overwhelmed by her beautiful hand-beaded leather goods.
For something different, you can visit the studio and workshop of Christelle Paul, a horn and bone artist, who relocated her studio to the heart of Port-au-Prince and is helping lift the community out of poverty through employing and training local artisans.
Further outside of the city center you will find the Haiti Design Co-op, created by two Americans Chandler and her husband Josh to help provide sustainable income to the local community through creating high-quality leather goods, jewelry and other products. Haiti-Design Co-op employs a sustainable business model where a percentage of the profits made from the sale of their goods is reinvested back into the community.
Outside of Port-au-Prince, the lovely oceanside town of Jacmel is known for its colorful paper-mache. Papier-mache vases, bowls, decorations and masks are sold everywhere in Jacmel especially around Carnival.
Art is everywhere in Haiti. It is a way of life and through art, there is beauty and hope for a brighter life and future in Haiti.