Art lifts hope in Haiti

Billions in promised aid has yet to arrive in devastated Port-au-Prince. But existing programs that help Haitians create – and make money from – art and craft projects are helping Haitians deal with the trauma and move forward.

Keith Lane
Two women view artwork by students and instructors at a Friday-night gallery opening at FOSAJ’s tuition-free art school in Jacmel. Electricity wasn’t available at the time, so candles lit the scene.

In a nation that was shaken to its core, oases of art are helping to rebuild communities.

Nine months after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti’s capital, physical and emotional healing is still a long way off. Billions of dollars in promised aid have yet to arrive. But within the art community here, people are beginning to find unity and hope once again.

Longstanding community art programs like Port-au-Prince’s Aprosifa (Association for the Promotion of Integral Family Health Care) provide places of respite and healing for youths and adults who use art as therapy. (The charity also provides care for families in need.)

In nearby Jacmel, art students of all ages at the nonprofit Fanal Otantik Sant D’A Jakmel (FOSAJ) have joined to create individual and collaborative works in response to the quake.

Students at the Ciné Institute, Jacmel’s tuition-free film school, attracted worldwide attention by covering the immediate aftereffects of the Jan. 12 earthquake. They recently relocated to a new campus, and are about to begin their fall semester.

Internationally recognized artists of the Grand Rue neighborhood in central Port-au-Prince continue to open their studios and mentor local youths despite the vast devastation there. Students create art from the rubble both to make money and to try to turn tragedy into beauty.

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