By Vania Andre
BOSTON, MA –Mattapan native, Marjorie Saintil-Belizaire, was selected to participate in Play Me, I’m Yours, Luke Jerram’s popular public art installation that is making its return visit to Boston this fall, courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston. The Haitian-American artist is one of sixty artists that were selected to have their work featured in the public art installation.
From Sept. 23 – Oct. 10, Street Pianos Boston will feature sixty pianos, decorated by these artists, and placed in public outdoor spaces in every Boston neighborhood and select Cambridge locations for the public to play and enjoy. Each piano will feature a simple invitation: “Play Me, I’m Yours.”
“Her work as an artist, her deep ties to the local community and how she described the inspiration for her work, led us to select her for this project,” Gary Dunning, Celebrity Series president and executive director.
As a lifelong resident of Mattapan, her “deep connections” to the local community and experiences growing up Haitian American shaped her artistic expression. Her ability to reflect the diversity of Boston and highlight the city’s Haitian community heavily influenced the judges’ decision to choose Saintil-Belizaire as one of the artists, who would have their work displayed on the pianos.
“My parents maintained a strong identity of the Haitian culture within our home,” Saintil-Belizaire said. “Growing up, art was an important part of my life; it was always all around me. My home was filled with paintings, sculptures and prints from Haiti.”
As a child she gravitated towards the art displayed in her home, and would draw replicas of the paintings. But what resonated with her even more were the summers she spent in Haiti, and the moving pieces of art that flooded the streets and the paintings that decorated the sidewalks.
“Every corner had outdoor galleries and street vendors selling paintings and sculptures,” she said. “I also reveled in seeing the colorful and ornately-painted TapTaps (commuter trucks) driving along the busy streets.”
Saintil-Belizaire, a contemporary mixed media painter and sculptor, runs an art studio called K. Fine Arts Studio, out of her home in Mattapan.
She pulls inspiration from the “aesthetics of Afrocentric masks along with the styles of Henri Matisse, Joan Mirò, Romero Britto and Gustav Klimt’s bright shapes and patterns.”
Her artwork reflects themes that can include people, nature, animals, mood and energy, and uses a variety of mediums such as: paint, glue, paper, fabric and clay.
“The mediums allow me to build, cover and reveal symbols or icons of the theme,” she said. “When I view things, I see it through a kaleidoscope of abstracts, shapes and colors. I see colors that are bright, bold and beautiful with instinctual movement and shapes that flows or has an edge. I often transition from guiding the artwork to the artwork guiding me. When that happens, I am invigorated… because my final product stimulates the viewer’s imagination.”
Saintil-Belizaire’s piano will represent the culturally diverse communities of Boston.
Artists from all backgrounds and disciplines were encouraged to apply.The goal was to have artists participate that represent a range of cultures, geographic locations and mediums.
“In 2016, the Celebrity Series of Boston hoped to find a blend of returning artists from the 2013 festival as well as new artist participants,” said Dunning. “It was also important to us to find a diverse group of artists, representing different ages, cultural identities, ethnicities, levels of artistic ability as well as mediums of artistic expression.”
The work to create the pianos will continue through Aug. 26 at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston. Once completed, the pianos will be tuned up before they are installed in every neighborhood across the city.
“As an artist, I always want to learn and do more. I also want to continue creating and exhibiting, sharing my knowledge and time, expertise and enthusiasm with the youth in my community as well as with other artists,” said Saintil-Belizaire.
“When my parents moved here from Haiti, they came here with the amazing treasures of language, art, history, music, folklore, dance and heritage. These treasures were passed on and were imprinted on me. When I create, I instill my cultural treasures into all aspects of my art.”