July 18, 2019 | 72° F

Exhibit addresses 2010 Haiti earthquake

ArtQuake project highlights artists affected by disaster

Photo by Firas Sattar |

The Center for Latino Arts and Culture hosted a fundraiser and panel discussion yesterday for Haitian artists and those who were impacted by the 2010 earthquake.

Scherezade Garcia decided her print of the Statue of Liberty for the ArtQuake project would have a new feature — a brown hue.

The University’s Center for Latino Arts and Culture hosted a panel discussion Thursday night on Caribbean art and cultural exchange.

“According to me, the Statue of Liberty should be [of mixed race],” Garcia said.

Garcia said when children ask how to make the color brown when they paint, teachers tell them to mix all the colors on their palette together, like a “mestizo,” or mixed-race person.

Three members of ArtQuake, a print portfolio on display at the CLAC on the College Avenue campus, held this panel to help raise funds and awareness for the artist communities that fell victim to the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Garcia, who was featured in the portfolio, said she saw the project as symbolic of the complex history of the Caribbean. She chose the brown hue to depict the inclusion of many different cultures in the United States.

“We mix all those colors together and in the future is, totally, a very mestiza Statue of Liberty,” Garcia said.

Carlos Fernandez, director of the center, said the CLAC also has a mixed population of students, as there is a significant population of students who identify as being from the Dominican Republic or Haiti.

“This is an opportunity for us to showcase an exhibit that includes artists from Haiti and other artists from the Caribbean and the United States addressing an important historical event,” Fernandez said.

He said this panel provided an opportunity to reach out and engage the many artists of different backgrounds and get them to work together despite their separation.

The University’s Caribbean Studies program made the CLAC a perfect location for the exhibition of the 10 prints in the portfolio, said Tatiana Flores, the moderator of the panel.

Flores, assistant professor of art history at the University, said every year the University sends students to the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor in the Caribbean.

Vladimir Cybil Charlier, an artist featured in the portfolio, said artists of Haitian, Cuban, Nevisian, Dominican, American, and Mexican origins donated art for the portfolio.

“I think [the pieces] … pose a very deep question as to what Caribbean-Latin American art looks like,” Chalier said.

There were no strict guidelines for the artists, outside of size of the prints, said Charlier, an ArtQuake coordinator.

“[Despite that], the pieces end up looking so cohesive … as if people had literally worked together in a shop,” Charlier said.

Charlier said the program was also selling 15 portfolios, each made up of 10 prints. One of the artists that donated their work told Charlier that a photocopy of his print sells for more than a single ArtQuake portfolio will.

“He donated 25 original prints, which is quite a bit of work,” said Charlier.

The Haiti Cultural Exchange, a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness about Haitian culture, coordinated the ArtQuake program, according to its website.

“I saw ArtQuake as a great opportunity to kind of bolster that [cultural] exchange with Haiti,” said Régine Roumain, director of the Haiti Cultural Exchange.  

Roumain said prior to the establishment of the Haiti Cultural Exchange, New York City was home to different, unconnected Haitian cultural groups.

“[There were] dance troupes, artists, musicians — there wasn’t an organization that encompassed all of that and was there to put Haitian arts and culture on the map on a consistent basis,” Roumain said.

Roumain said her organization provides artists with opportunities to be seen and heard.

“Artists have something to say about the world that they’re living in,” she said.

By Simon Galperin

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