Out with the old, welcome the new!
December 30, 2012
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January 6, 2013
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I am in Haiti.

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.

View from the plane--oh how I love the blue.

View from the plane–oh how I love the blue.



Sea collage, looking down on the Caribbean

Sea collage, looking down on the Caribbean

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.

Our fearless students at the Mupanah Museum du Pantheon National d"Haiti

Our fearless students at the Mupanah Museum du Pantheon National d”Haiti

My new role model at Hotel Oloffson

My new role model at Hotel Oloffson

Gyode studio, Grand Rue, this sculpture is now in my collection.

Gyode studio, Grand Rue, this sculpture is now in my collection.

Philippe Dodard and me at Gyode's studio.

Philippe Dodard and me at Gyode’s studio.

Grand Rue

Grand Rue

All of us at Eugene Andre's studio in the Grand Rue.

All of us at Andre Eugene’s studio in the Grand Rue.

New Year's Inspiration, Grand Rue

New Year’s Inspiration, Grand Rue



  1. Love the bottle cap art! At least that is what it looks like to me- found object art for sure!
    Thanks for the pix! “Welcome We are One”, Happy looking students and gredat art- who could ask for more?

    Enjoy, karen

    • Melanie says:

      Yes, total found art. All of the Grand Rue art is materials that have been scavenged from the street and transformed into gorgeous works. There was this one piece, I will write about it tomorrow, that had AMAZING bottlecaps embedded in it, and other collage materials, ridiculous. You would love. it. here.

  2. Sue L'H says:

    Fabulous Grand Rue and We Are One photos, Melanie. An art-focused trip to Haiti sounds amazing.

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks Sue–it is amazing. Philippe Dodard who has been our guide the past two days is an internationally known artist and director of the National Art School here. He introduced us to some really interesting artists, and continues to give us an insider’s look to what it means to be an artist in Haiti today. We’ve been in studios and house galleries that we would have never found if it wasn’t for his connections. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I’m inspired as an artist in a way that is completely new to me. Really fantastic.

  3. Brooke Langston says:

    That does it–i’m keeping my red mary janes. Taking them out of the goodwill bag right now.

  4. […] I am just back from Haiti, all I can think about is the greeting Bon Soleil and what it means. Go here and here to learn more about my trip to Haiti! With this, I began playing around with circles and […]

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