Many conversations about Haiti are often informed by two ideas: that it is ‘the poorest nation in the western hemisphere’ and ‘the first liberated post-colonial country of the African Diaspora.’ The implications of each of these statements underscores the historical, cultural, and political complexity represented by the many possible answers to the question, “What is Haiti?” Haiti in the Collective Imagination makes no attempt to answer this question fully but instead suggests some possible responses. Images as disparate as those of Vodou or the paramilitary Tonton Macoutes (Creole for Boogey Man or “Uncle Gunneysack”) reveal a confluence and clash of the history that gave birth to modern Haiti: the influence of the African tradition, the colonialist European legacy, and the specific nature of the Caribbean experience. This makes clear how much deeper Haiti is than the earthquake of 2010, which killed over a quarter of a million people and left over one million homeless. At the same time, the immensity of the catastrophe, the frailty of the infrastructure and the many failures in response, both nationally and internationally, have made clear both the challenges for, and understanding of, Haiti.
Kishan Munroe was born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1980. In 1998, Munroe graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. He double majored in Painting and Visual Effects and completed his undergraduate work with honors in 2003. He went on to pursue graduate work at his alma mater on a graduate fellowship and concluded his studies in Painting in 2005.
Munroe has exhibited in the Caribbean and the U.S.A, and is included in many public and private collections. He is the recipient of numerous awards including: grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, multiple awards from The Central Bank of The Bahamas, The Nancie Mattice International Grand Prize Award, and the Combined Merit fellowship at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
On the 21st of August 20, 2008, Munroe, embarked upon a multi-media expedition entitled ‘The Universal Human Experience’ – the first ever project of this magnitude attempted by a solo artist. With paintbrush and camera in hand Munroe has planned an ambitious trek around the world. Through his imagery, he tells the many and varied stories of human struggles and triumphs in the hope of finding a common ground. Kishan Munroe is based in Nassau, Bahamas but will be a global citizen for the next few years.
“King’s fierce line spans several printing methods; most recently, predominantly woodcuts, lithography, and etchings. In balancing a graphic design career with fine art ambitions, King composes earnestly communicative images.They are relatable, recognizable. His vulnerable characters reveal a solidarity among souls consumed by desire.” – bombsite.com
Isaiah King is a Canadian-born graphic designer and artist living and working in New York City. Isaiah’s self-directed design projects build upon an assertion that art and design can play an important role in the elevation of deeper public discourse on social issues. His printmaking and drawing works pursue an ongoing study of the human form in all its complex, emotive facets. Employing intaglio, lithography, screen-printing, relief-printing and painting, Isaiah applies diverse and aggressive mark making into his figure studies.
Isaiah is a graduate of Canterbury’s Visual Arts program in Ottawa, Canada, and has studied percussion under professionals throughout West Africa and has lead theater, as well as set design and music projects in both Canada and the US. He has a degree in Graphic Design (with a focus in Printmaking) from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.
Prior to his study in Boston, Isaiah was a member of Counternotes Theatre Group, an Ottawa based physical theater company, where in addition to performing, he designed and constructed the group’s sets, masks and props. He was also a set and props designer for Odyssey Theatre and the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.
From a young age Isaiah has been a student of West African percussion and has studied throughout Senegal, Mali, Guinee and Ghana. In recent years he has performed at festivals and events across Canada with his former drum and dance troupe rIthm project, Akpokli Drum and Dance Society and in the Northeast US with Moussa Traore’s Timinandi.
Current initiatives include the development of agitproject, an online gallery, resource and boutique for social issues-based works with a manifesto to advance the presence of socially relevant information exchange in our public environments.
One of Isaiah’s political posters appears in Design for Obama edited by Aaron Perry-Zucker and Spike Lee, published by Taschen in the fall of 2009. His printmaking work has been shown at the International Print Center of New York, Dutch Kills Gallery in Long Island City, in Boston at The Savant Project and Wall Space Gallery in Ottawa, Canada. His social justice posters have been shown in California as part of Prison Nation curated by The Center for the Study of Political Graphics and at Northeastern University as part of a conference on race and ethnicity.
THE PONT-ROUGE PORTRAIT PROJECT is a series of 7 large woodcut prints of Haitian earthquake survivors, created with the intention of using art to offer aid to the people of Haiti. The works are based on the photos of award-winning photojournalist Q. Sakamaki who shot a series in Pont-Rouge refugee camp, near Port-au-Prince, shortly after the earthquake in January, 2010.
I chose portraiture to explore this event in an attempt to personalize the story of the quake and to focus upon survival and life. This series was created with the deepest conviction that art can address current events and social issues while also engaging a larger public to take interest, participate and discuss these issues. By collaborating with a photojournalist who has the eye and skills to capture important stories in our global community, I’ve attempted to blur the lines of art, documentary journalism and story-telling.
The woodcuts are printed on Japanese paper by master printer James Miller at the Lower East Side Printshop in Manhattan.
Proceeds from the sale of these works go to grass roots community-based organizations in Haiti. I believe that an engaged art world can become a powerful force for sustainable community and economic development while also reclaiming art’s status as a practice that meaningfully relates to people, their lives and their communities.
Born in Haiti, Engels is a self-taught artist living in Brooklyn for over 25 years. Engels’ work has been exhibited in Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean. His most recent exhibition was “Strange Intersections: new work by Engels” at FiveMyles Gallery in Brooklyn in December 2009.
The “style” is abstract figurative or modern spiritual. It should evoke the feeling of a journey, a movement that you want to hold on to. The spiritual is something you cannot see, hear or touch, you can only feel. I’m interested in the way art can participate in that, both in the creative process and in the act of seeing.My process is a constant experiment. I build – with wood, paper, layers of paint, found objects, and canvas, what I find in the world and what I create as if from nothing – in the pull of a vital moment. I am interested in how we learn through working, how mistakes in process become new forms of creation