The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Aug 30, 2013

First in flight: the creative crafts of Haiti

Posted by Anne Tschida

Unique crafts from our unique neighbor.

For those of you who are still unaware that Miami International Airport has some seriously good art hanging around, this is a reminder. We are not talking about cheesy coffee shop paintings. We are talking about permanent and site-specific works from top-talent artists spread all across the various terminals: dropping from the ceilings, splashed along the walls, rolled out beneath your feet.

But what makes the MIA art experience stand out from most other airports is that is also includes actual galleries in the different terminals. Under the inspired eye of Yolanda Sanchez, these galleries have included truly exceptional art shows – ones that it’s a shame that those not traveling during that time would miss out on.

This summer continues the track record. In South Terminal J, “Haiti: Leaving a Legacy” brings the unique creative culture of that island to life. Yes, every Caribbean nation has important cultural traditions, but Haiti stands out. The first free black country in the world, it was often isolated physically and economically, and developed an artisan culture on its own that mixed its French and Creole heritage – the result are crafts that are unlike anything else in the world.

A Gary Monroe photograph from Haiti A Gary Monroe photograph from Haiti.

Facing almost endless crisis, man-made and natural, Haitians became incredibly imaginative, finding and using the endless amounts of debris scattered about the country, the product of hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and civil strife. Even after one of the most deadly and devastating earthquakes in history in 2010, “the people of Haiti continue to thrive and produce some of the most intricate and trendsetting crafts in the world.” Despite all the adversity, they are indeed leaving a profound legacy.

Most of the pieces in this exhibit come from the “Urban Zen Haiti Artisan Project,” curated by fashion designer Donna Karan, and interspersed with photography of the island from Gary Monroe. Edouard Duval-Carrié and the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance also helped organize the exhibit.

“Haiti: Leaving a Legacy” can be viewed at Miami International Airport's South Terminal Gallery, International Greeters Lobby and 4th floor-level mezzanine.

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