Small Haitian Metal Milagro Crosses 4" x 6"
Jean Claude Soulouque
Whether born into one of the artisan families of Croix-des-Bouquets, or drawn from the Haitian countryside by the prospect of education and work, Beyond Borders’ 70-plus sculptors know that their futures are secured by art, tradition, and fair trade. Beginning in the 1950s with Georges Liataud, the former railway blacksmith turned folk art pioneer, creativity and innovation have gone hand in hand with teaching and sharing.
Liataud, observing the surplus of steel drums in his village, saw opportunity and resources. He cut the metal barrels, using only a hammer and a chisel, and began fashioning simple crosses to mark gravestones in the local cemetery. His work attracted the attention of DeWitt Peters, founder of the Center d’Art in Port-au-Prince, who brought him into the Center and encouraged him to explore his craft. Taking that advice, Liataud expanded his repertoire and began depicting cultural as well as religious images. Additionally, he experimented with dimensionality and form.
Equally important, he began to share his knowledge, taking on Gabriel Bien-Aime and the Louisjuste brothers as apprentices. And those men, now regarded as great masters in their own right, taught the next generation, who in turn taught the next. So it is today, with several Beyond Borders artists having trained with these early master sculptors, now opening their own workshops, and sharing their techniques with the young and eager. As one artist put it, “I teach people how to work. When I hire them, I help them to earn a life.”
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