Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Touched By Heart of Haiti

heart of haiti paintingSometimes you don't have to go far in life to feel grateful and humbled. That was my experience last week when I covered the Macy's Heart of Haiti launch in Dadeland as part of my blogger outreach work.

The event was great, with food, music and dancing (see tons of photos at Soul of Miami), but more importantly, I got to meet the artists who are spearheading the movement in Haiti as well as Willa Shalit, a brilliant woman who came up with such a great idea in Fair Winds Trading and was behind incredible sustainable projects like Path to Peace, which supports Rwandan women.

When you put heart and soul into a project, wonderful things happen. Wonderful things like people actually making a living doing what they love, which is what prosperity is all about. And wonderful things like "art for social change" (Willa's purpose), which quite honestly, we could even use more of even in this country, regardless of political or natural catastrophes. Working with Heart of Haiti last week was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done, because it felt good to help others who are making the world a little more beautiful and palatable for our eyes while keeping cultural traditions alive. For all of this I'm very grateful.

At Blogalicious over the weekend, I had a chance to sit down with Willa and two of the artists, Pascale and Satyr, who specialize in papier-mache art work, an artistic medium that's important to Haitian culture and the Caribbean in general, related to carnival and other cultural traditions. Below is the interview.

But it doesn't stop here. As Miamians, we have a very special opportunity to learn about and support Haitian culture right in our own backyards. This isn't just about the earthquake. This is about people who are here to stay and building lives. So yes, I'm going to encourage you to buy some beautiful art work at Macy's, but I'm also going to encourage you to get to know our island neighbors who have a well-established community here. This is what makes Miami unique. Love it or leave it ... I choose to love it.

Below are links to a few sites and resources. If I missed any, please leave a comment with additional information.
  • The Haitian Heritage Museum is open in the Design District and has a special music event every second Saturday until December of this year.
  • Talk about the Haitian community here over at Miami Beach 411 forums.
  • Take a cultural tour of Little Haiti with David Brown, author of The Story of Little Haiti.
  • Read a book by Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-born author who lives in South Florida and has taught creative writing at the University of Miami. Breath, Eyes, Memory is a beautiful work of literature and it's not surprising it was featured in Oprah's Book Club.
  • Also a great read: In The Kingdom of This World by Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier, who wrote about the Haitian revolution in the style of magical realism.
  • Next time you go to South Beach, catch live music, a poetry reading or just eat and enjoy a mojito at Tap-Tap.
  • Support the Little Haiti Cultural Center, which is underused, according to the Miami Herald.
  • Stop by MOCA Miami (Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami) to see Haiti photos by Bruce Weber starting November 19, 2010 as part of the Knight Exhibition Series.
  • Take a walk on the river side to see Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrie's sculpture "The Lady of Miami" at the beautiful mouth of the Miami river, just south of Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.
Again, I've only scratched the surface here. Feel free to leave comments about other Haiti related venues and activities in South Florida.

Video credit: many special thanks to my dear friend Blanca @miamishines for taping and sharing the interview.


Danica Kombol said...

Maria, we so loved meeting you at the Heart of Haiti event and joining you in this important initiative. You have a big Miami heart and thanks for sharing!

willa said...

Maria, it was so great meeting you through the work of Heart of Haiti ... Thank you for the huge heart you have for the people of Haiti, and for the work you're doing to bring awareness to the richness of Haitian history, art and culture!

Mike said...

Hi Maria-

This is a great article for our great neighbors. Bummed I missed this event. Forget what monkey wrench was thrown in... Anyway, thanks for the list at the end. I put it on my refrigerator.