Friday, January 29, 2010

One More Tragic Outcome in Haiti: The Loss of Art

Haitian artist Levoy Exil

As the personal stories come forth from Haiti I feel more and more touched by the situation. As a narrative person, the stark images of destruction posted in the AP were hard for me to identify as real. I know they are, but in my blessed ignorance I’ve never witnessed that sort of experience, so it is hard for comprehend. But these stories, the stories!, that keep coming out about people who were lost, found, are still missing, corpses burned, suffering etc. are overwhelming and bring that stark reality right straight home. I especially love the way this one is written. It follows the course of the earthquake for several Americans, but ends with a questioning note: What must it be like for much of Haiti’s poor who lack a voice right now?

And, in the aftermath it seems that we are beginning to realize that along with life we have lost the humanity, architecture, and art of a culture. I never think of things in those terms. This passage pretty much sums of this article best:

The significance of art in Haiti may be hard for outsiders to understand. But with few functioning institutions, few outlets of expression, Haiti’s brightly colored depictions — some laced with spiritual traditions of voodoo culture — of sun and sea, people and animals serve as memory for a country that has suffered under dictatorships and failed governments and is today the poorest in the Americas.

With unemployment as high as 85 percent and a majority of Haitians reeling in abject poverty, art has also emerged as an economic lifeline.

And now, much of it is gone, the means of it currently gone.

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