I am in Haiti.
My anxiety level rose a few notches in anticipation of this trip, especially when the State Department upped their warnings for Americans traveling to Haiti on December 28, 2012, five days before our departure. I was grateful for the Bradt posting of how one of those warnings might be written for Haitians traveling to America. That helped, sort of.
This pic from the plane, and the collage inspired by it, also helped.
So did freshly picked mangos and guava jam. But perhaps the best fix came from meeting with Regine, the Haitian Cultural Attache for the State Department. Our trip is not a State Department sponsored trip, so we don’t have to adhere to the yellow and red zone guidelines, but the State Department has helped make this trip possible. Her briefing on our first full day in Haiti completely eased my mind, as did meeting Phillippe Dodard, who has guided us through the museum and gallery world as well as the Grand Rue, a noted State Department red zone, but home to some of Haitians most well-known contemporary artists.
So why am I in Haiti?
I am accompanying eight MCLA students along with my incredible colleague Jonathan Secor, Director of Special Programs at MCLA, on an arts and culture immersion trip. We are exploring historical and contemporary visual and performing arts in Haiti. Each student researched a different aspect of history, contemporary society or art prior to the trip, and now we are spending our days meeting artists, visiting studios, galleries, and museums. We each have a sketchbook, with the assignment to document, draw and write, as well as the goal to help our fellow artists in Haiti by purchasing art. Tomorrow or later today, I will write about our focused looked at the Saint Soleil artists.
Here are some of the highlights so far.