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The Wonderful Paintings of Haitian Artist Bruno Rene: Post #3 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

June 29, 2012 3 comments

While I conducted the photography workshop with teenagers (see Posts 1 & 2) at Art Creation Foundation for Children in Jacmel, Haiti, I photographed the paintings of several of the young artists who have blossomed in the art program over the years.

The work of 19-year-old Bruno Rene really stood out.  Bruno came to the foundation in 2007.  He had intermittently attended school and had never even considered creating art of any sort.  He was immediately enrolled in school and has now completed the equivalent of what would be ninth grade in the US.  In time, it became apparent that he was a very serious and gifted painter.  His only instruction in painting has come from training at the foundation by members of a group of Jacmel artists called Fosaj and occasional visiting artists, but he has worked very intently on improving his skills.   He is very, very serious about his work.

In 2011, The New Orleans Jazz Festival had a special Haitian Art Exhibit and commissioned ACCFC to provide 3 paintings.  The kids in the foundation voted for Bruno to enter, rather than sending a collaborative effort.  For this entry, the foundation received a $300 award.  About 25% went to the foundation’s food fund and the rest was awarded to Bruno.  His allocation of this small sum shows the type of person he is.  The largest share went to the sister he lives with, who also takes care of a number of young children.  He asked the foundation to hold a portion as a savings account for him, a few dollars bought him a new shirt, and he gave another small sum to someone poorer than he who needed it for food.

As I prepared for the photography workshop and assembled the equipment I brought with me, my friend Monica worked with Bruno to be sure that the descriptive information about each of his paintings was correct.  You can see the stockpile of paper mache objects created by the children in the background.

Then, using a background of a white shower curtain  taped to a cement wall on a shaded balcony, I photographed Bruno’s work.

“La Belle Creole”:

“La Sou France”:

“L’Union des Drapeau”

One of the goals of the foundation, when created by Judy Hoffman in 2000, was to instill a sense of community in the children.  Life in Haiti can be so difficult, and the scramble for food and housing so incessant, that there is no room to develop a sense of responsibility for others.  Bruno’s trajectory from street kid to responsible young adult is the ideal outcome of participation in the programs of the Art Creation Foundation for Children.  And he is a delight to work with.

Bruno Rene with “Scene de la Vie: Est un Song”

An Inspiring Week with Haitian Teens: Post #1 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I have just returned from a wonderful week teaching a group of Haitian teenagers in Jacmel how to photograph their artwork.

Art Creation Foundation for Children was founded by my childhood friend Judy Hoffman in 2000 as a way to help street children in the town of Jacmel to get an education and learn crafts by which they could earn a living.  Little did she know what she was getting herself into.  Before the 2010 earthquake, the project included 60 children and a small staff.  The foundation now takes care of 100 children and their families.  A few of the children are orphaned; most have some family, but none had attended school or eaten on a regular basis prior to joining ACFFC.  The foundation provides a safe place to be after school, a place to do homework and to learn about and create artwork.  During the school year, the children’s school fees are paid and they are provided with uniforms, shoes, backpacks, books and a substantial lunch after school.  During vacations, they are served three meals a day.  A major goal is for each child to be able to be self-supporting and to have a real sense of community as he or she becomes an adult.

I arrived in Jacmel with my friend Monica to learn more first-hand about the foundation and to hold a workshop for some of the older children on how to photograph their artwork – mainly objects of papier mache and paintings.  It was a wonderful week and we all learned a great deal.

We somehow negotiated our way out of the totally chaotic airport Port au Prince and crossed over the mountains south to Jacmel.  Fairly hair-raising, although our driver, Juice, was really skilled at passing every person or vehicle in front of us, using an intricate combination of honks that seemed to be a common language understood by all, whether on foot or in some kind of vehicle.  We were glad to arrive in Jacmel.

This was our first introduction to the foundation:
We turned left and then right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There we were met at the door to the courtyard by Georges Metallus, the Executive Director in Haiti.

 

I will continue my story in the coming days and weeks, so that I can share my impressions of the children, their accomplishments and the work the foundation is involved in with you all.

For the moment – a peek at the group of teenagers I worked with: