The Do Art Foundation‘s Let There Be Light project in collaboration with Project HOPE Art went to Haiti to help spread a message of healing and empowerment through arts during Kanavale (carnival season), along with partners Cuddle the World from Lucient Dossier and Burners without Borders. This year, the group also brought noted architectural installation artist Shrine to assemble a sculpture from reclaimed materials at the RAJEPRE School. The school is home to 100 children who would otherwise not attend school or receive an education in one of the hardest hit and poorest neighborhoods, Cité Soleil. Run by Jeremy Winter Delaplane, this is the only school in Cite Soleil.
Haiti holds a special place for Cartwheel Art: Our founder Cindy Schwarzstein spent time there as a child and it was through her parents’ art gallery in Jacmel, Haiti that she developed her love of art. Others at Cartwheel Art have a link with Haiti through the country’s spiritual practices, so the mixture of Shrine with Haiti intrigued us, and we are proud to have been this event’s media partner.
Haiti is still recovering from the devastating January 2010 earthquake, and since the earthquake, builders, innovators and organizers assembled at the Haiti Communitere eco-base to fan out their ingenuity (Haiti Communitere was also a LTBL parter). These visionaries create new solutions (and celebrations) in poor Haitian neighborhoods. Haiti touches everyone who goes there. Moon, aka Feather Chyld one of the volunteers emailed, writing:
The love and enthusiasm of the people of Haiti, it’s almost impossible to sum it up in words. I feel fortunate for the time shared with the beautiful kids here and the smiles are worth every single minute. Learning and understanding the depth of this place faced with complex community issues, has been fascinating. It’s been a game changer for me.
Shrine also found LTBL to be positive experience:
Spending a short time in Haiti has been good for keeping things in perspective. Learning from people while having a shared experience. Keeping it light and friendly.
Along with working on Shrine’s installation, the group, which woke to the sound of Haitian choir singing in the morning,s were housed in Haiti Communitere with volunteers from around the world, including medics, builders and other aid workers LTBL painted the faces of hundreds of kids and painted the RAJAPRE School in Cite Soliel, as well as visiting the Atis Rezistans, a Hatian arts collective creating, in the words of volunteer Jade,
magical voodoo recycled art.
For Melissa Schilling from Project HOPE Art, Let There Be Light manifests the goals of all involved:
To transform something is one thing. To put the tools for transformation into the hands of others, to encourage others and support others in their ideas for positive transformation is quite another thing. Art really is the universal language.