MIAMI — Miami is a diverse city whose cultural offerings — Art Basel being just one notable example — are exceptional. Thriving on this energy and contributing to the arts and cultural landscape in a major way are Eveline Pierre, founder and executive director of the Haitian Heritage Museum (HHM), along with her partner, Serge Rodriquez, director of operations.
The museum is nestled in a quaint and understated gallery in the Miami Design District. Of the many projects with which the museum is affiliated, Ayiti Expose — which provides outreach and cultural workshops to Miami Dade County Public Schools to foster awareness of Haitian-American culture — is the museum’s signature program. The museum collaborates with other local partners and facilitates historic presentations, art and artifact exhibits.
Just shy of eight years in operation, Pierre and Rodriquez have had quite an impact here and in their native Haiti. They are gaining momentum by forging international relations as well.
Amid the traffic of Art Basel — which garners art lovers from all over the world each year for a feast of the eyes and senses — the museum’s current exhibit, Les Jacmeliens 2011, marks the official launch of the first exhibition that bridges the renowned Arts District in Jacmel, Haiti with the Art District in Miami.
With the two-year mark of the Haiti earthquake approaching, the tides are moving towards revitalization, through bricks, mortar, natural resources and undeniably the culture of its people. While the focus until now has been on building homes for people still living in the tent cities, Jacmel, often described as Haiti’s most beautiful city and one of the country’s few tourist destinations, is where an art revival is contributing to the country’s revitalization.
During Art Basel 2010, the HHM featured an exhibition by Haitian artist Jhon Charles, a survivor of the Haiti earthquake. Charles’ collection was expressive of that moment, offering a unique artistic perspective of the days and weeks following the tragic event with pieces now archived at the museum.
The present exhibition features works by two Haitian artists from Jacmel, Jean Charles Duffaut (Dufo) and Carel Blain, together with works by local Haitian-American contemporary artist Reynald Poisson. The exhibition unveiled with an opening reception at the Haitian Heritage Museum on Dec. 1, and an intimate Art Talk and cross-border dialogue with the artists on Dec. 2.
The museum and the exhibit are deserving of support, particularly since they offer an authentic sharing of Haitian culture, even as so many other sources have taken to exploiting the country, its rich history and people and the horror of the 2010 earthquake.
There is a sudden “fashion feel” and predictable market of “all things Haiti.” The truth is it doesn’t get more real than Pierre and Rodriquez’ monument and gift of the Haitian Heritage Museum. The first and only museum dedicated to the Haitian people and culture outside of Haiti gives homage right here in South Florida. It’s a glimpse into the culture, the eyes and voices of Haiti and should not go unnoticed.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Les Jacmeliens
WHEN: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through March 31, 2012
WHERE: The Haitian Heritage Museum, 4141 N.E. 2nd Ave., Suite 105C, Miami
COST: Free admission