Not afraid to be the person you have to be. Not struggling with Self worth, Shakespeare said it, but it goes back to ancient times: “To Yourself Be True.” The everlasting question about one’s identity simply translated: Be Your Self, the opposite of being lost, a vagabond wanderer.
How does Haitian art speak to you? Does it stab in the heart? You walk into an exhibition, to find a painting; a woman piercing the night, armed with a dagger. A closer look: She wears nothing but a small child, which she holds in a tight grip around her bosom. For a brief moment, do you flashback into a long time ago, when you too, carried a dagger into the night, just like that woman. But how did the painter know to paint just that picture of so long ago? Haitian art survives the human race with all its errors and terrors. Without struggle, it sustains tragedies, resilient to transit generations despite of man’s nature.
How does the Nago rhythm sound, this three-part staccato, calling ancient warriors into the battlefield? Want to rip it to pieces? A reminder, a submerged thought; another flashback, not even related to the rest you construe as deja vue. Is it a feeling, riding from the chest, to the shoulders, scapula, and straight to the head? Plant your feet; it is thunder when you hear the Nago rhythm, and wonder, “Why do I always feel so when I hear the Nago! Um”
That old Haitian soul in the new artist living in a world deemed right to interpret and validate it as the soul of a country: Just As You Like! Running free, in a new world, oh but that old Haitian soul has materialized! Have you seen its presence in the written pages? Tears run down your cheeks begging not to sum it up in artistic value but in Haitian art remains life. For it is a small minority: looking to observe the next beauty in any shape form, to communicate with another ‘Old Haitian Soul,’ materialized and blended in this new world.
Despite its malleability the Haitian artist who purges her/his soul, remains limited, restrained, and unable to evolve with the flow of time. For the few who have attained status through education and worldly exposure, their art form generally does not surpass that of their illiterate counterparts. What causes Haitian art to flourish and remain original? It is that which differentiates the Haitian character, that distinct archetype lays in the spiritual.
Where would Haitian art stand if it relied on the philanthropy of admirers to sustain the artist? The mean would justify the end but that world does not exist for a majority struggles to keep afloat drowning in a mount of inspiration with little outlet.
For the younger generation, let us pray a gentler, kinder world to receive both the art and the artist. Let us pray for socialization to seep through and re-evaluate what we value. That process is entirely up to human kind. Haitian art has proven to outlive the best of us. This warrior will not be defeated even at the expense of its mediums.