Keeping Haiti In Our Hearts – an Art Exhibition Exploring Haitian Identity

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Tuesday, June 19, 2012 – An exhibition that acts as a forum on Haitian-American heritage and culture will open this September at Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park. Aimed at addressing intergenerational gaps in the cultural experience which have occurred between Haitians and Haitian-Americans, Keeping Haiti In Our Hearts: Interpreting Heritage In the Diaspora will engage diverse groups of children, youth, and adults in dialogues about what it means to be Haitian. Discussions will include the universal themes of hope, love, despair, fear, myth, continuity, and change as they focus on Haitian culture. The exhibition opens on Friday, September 14, 2012 and will close on Saturday, December 29, 2012.

A two-location opening reception for Keeping Haiti In Our Hearts will be held on Friday, September 14, 2012, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery located at Crealdé School of Art's main campus, 600 St. Andrews Boulevard; and the reception's second portion, from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m., will be held at Crealdé's Hannibal Square Heritage Center located at 642 West New England Avenue, where there will be a Haitian musical performance. The exhibition is held in partnership with the Miami-based Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance, Epple Seed Arts, Jakmel Art Gallery, and Lobey Art & Travel.

Keeping Haiti In Our Hearts will include internationally known contemporary artists such as Edouard Duval Carrie, Frantz Charlemagne (who lives in Haiti and will be in attendance at the opening), Jude PapalokoThegenius, and Jerome Soimaud. Traditional artworks, including sequin flags, sculptures, and folk paintings, will be on display from the University of Central Florida's Bryant West Indies Collection and the collection of Butler H. Smith, Jr. and Betty Ford-Smith from Sebring, Florida. More traditional paintings by L'Overture Poisson, Jerome Polycarpe, and Nesly-Exumé also will be included in the exhibition. The selection of artworks will demonstrate their shared motifs, symbols, and patterns, addressing ideas about collapsing categories of art in exchange for more emphasis on cultural context, in this case Haitian identity.

A Haitian “Tap Tap” bus, commonly used for public transportation in Haiti, will be driven from Miami to become part of the exhibit. Upon its arrival in Winter Park the week before the exhibit's opening, the bus will be painted by local artists and students in traditional, vibrant designs created by Haitian artist Jude PapalokoThegenius.

Additionally, local Haitian and African American teens living in Orlando's historic Parramore neighborhood will display their photography in the Showalter Hughes Community Gallery on Crealdé's main campus, created through the Storytellers XV Program. This outreach program, hosted in partnership with the New Image Youth Center and funded by the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, uses documentary photography to teach students to explore and express their cultural heritage.

Keeping Haiti In Our Hearts was curated by Natalia da Silva, a University of Florida Museum Studies graduate student, and Crealdé Painting & Drawing Director Henry Sinn, with support from an advisory committee of academics and the local Haitian community. This exhibition is funded through a Tourist Development Grant from Orange County Government, Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Crealdé School of Art, established in 1975, is a community based non-profit arts organization. It features a year-round curriculum of more than 100 visual arts classes for students of all ages, taught by a faculty of 40 working artists; a renowned Summer ArtCamp for children and teens; a Visiting Artist workshop series; Contemporary Sculpture Garden; three galleries and award-winning outreach programs.

The Hannibal Square Heritage Center was founded in 2007 as an extension of Crealdé School of Art's community programs, in partnership with the City of Winter Park. Through the award-winning Heritage Collection, the center pays tribute to the contributions of Winter Park's historic African American community.