Wednesday, December 4, 2013

HAITI :: The visible red thread

Sonya and one of many aspiring art students
Art connects people. Without so much as a single word, colors on a canvas or lines on a page can bring strangers together. In some instances, art creates a unique foundation on which to build relationships. 

Art, like love and hope, is a language all its own. It knows no boundaries. It is something to be shared. Regardless of who you are, or where you come from. Irrespective of size, shape, color, race, gender, religion, economic status or language. What a gift—a gift that Sonya was more than happy to share with many during our last trip to Haiti. 

The art of Zentangle, a form of meditative drawing, was the conduit for connecting with people throughout the week: from children in a remote mountain schoolyard, to highly competitive street vendors peddling their wares in the city, to students at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. 

Some of the beautiful Zentangle tiles created during the trip
(Sonya's on the left; Locson's first attempt on the right)

The Duplan schoolyard

It began with a single teenager whose curiosity got the best of him during recess on the team’s first day in Duplan, a rural mountainside village. Sonya spread out her art, sat down on a concrete bench and began to draw. She looked up to find him intently watching her every pen stroke. Of course, she invited him to give it a try and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Throughout the week, Sonya’s impromptu class grew from one to 12—using every pen, each pencil and all the paper she brought—with more than 20 observers at any given time; each anxiously awaiting their turn. These normally aloof teens showed an amazing curiosity for Zentangle, their interest increasing daily. It was wonderful watching the kids progress from tentative drawing and dissatisfaction with their work to complete confidence and asking for more paper! 
The first art student
His intense concentration was impressive


As Sonya worked with the kids on that first day, a sprightly 20-something arrived at the school in hopes of selling his artwork to our team. What a blessing this young man turned out to be! Not only was he a fantastic painter (per Sonya: “possibly the most talented artist I’ve met in Haiti”) but, more importantly, a kind and caring person.

Locson and Sonya during a Zentangle lesson
Although the two just met, a strong bond quickly formed between the two. In turn, the pair reviewed one another’s art, discussed techniques, materials, cost and value. Over time, they set aside the small talk and delved deeper, talking about inspiration, their individual art instruction and Locson’s aspirations to open his own studio in Haiti to nurture the artist in every child.

While the students were in class, Sonya taught Locson Zentangle. He was a natural! When they were done creating art together, they spent time in the Haitian tradition, haggling over the price of some stunning paintings.

Sealing the deal sale (lucky Sonya!)
During breaks when the kids came back for more drawing lessons, Locson voluntarily translated Sonya’s instructions for the growing student body. He encouraged kids who were ready to abandon their drawings to continue; he made suggestions for others to improve their work; he encouraged them to practice drawing.

Learning to Zentangle
He was SO proud of the final product!

Unforgetable gifts

On our final day in Duplan, Locson returned and spent the morning with Sonya and the students. Before the team’s departure, he entrusted her with three gorgeous paintings. He asked for no money or agreement. His only request was for her to see if anyone would be interested in them in the States. 

He gave these three gifts with no guarantee that Sonya would return. 
No guarantee of payment. 
No guarantee of returned artwork. 
Only trust that she would be a woman of her word.  

Locson's generous spirit will never be forgotten. His gifts to our team were more than three beautiful paintings—but also gifts of time, talent, and his love of the Haitian people. 

We look forward to our return to Duplan and reconnecting with Locson.

Some of the local children, like Basmani (above)
and her brother below, don't attend school in Duplan,
but were regular visitors during our week at the school
Pure concentration
Duplan students showing off their masterpieces


Angela Werner said...

This is lovely and so are you, Sonya! Heartwarming encounters!

Crafterdays said...

This is a beautiful story. You've left more than Zentangle with these kids.

Chris Titus said...

Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.