Building a New Chapter
By Pascale Faublas
I didn’t really set out to be an artist. I left Haiti for college and I studied Hotel Management in Montreal and when I graduated I got a job at a chic but lazy beachside hotel in Port-au-Prince. It was there that my life became a solitary sort of existence. I suddenly had time to read, to think, to paint. I enjoyed what I was doing and then I discovered others did too. I guess you could say becoming an artist was a choice I discovered.
I decided to open a gallery in Port au Prince to show my own work but really to connect with other artists. The gallery for me was as much a place to see art as it was a way to build a community of artists. My gallery was called “Atelier Kreyol,” and there I expanded my savoir faire from painting clothing, to wood, canvas, and papier mache.
I continued my love of arts when I moved to the beautiful seaside village of Jacmel. When I was living in Jacmel, I had a gallery there too, but it was there that that entire chapter of my life came to an end with the earthquake. I was sitting at home on the computer when I felt the first waves of the quake. I recognized what it was and I crossed my fingers and prayed it would stop. I ran out to the street and I looked back at my house. It was now covered in dust with a large crack running down the façade and I knew I would not return to my home.
It wasn’t until the shock wore off six months later that we began helping artisans who were on the street. We began to think together. I’ve always been involved in the community so this came naturally. I didn’t have time to feel helpless and I had the occasion to meet people, people who knew what was happening. After the earthquake I met Willa Shalit from Fairwinds Trading, and through her I was introduced to Heart of Haiti campaign and the work they were doing with the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
I became the Local Director of the Heart of Haiti program working with Fairwinds Trading, the HAND/EYE Fund and Road to Market. Through the help of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund we’ve been able to build the Artisans Business Network and work with all these incredible artists in Jacmel and the region creating papier mache pieces for sale at Macy’s and other stores. We also are constantly creating new products and exploring other ways for artists to find a way to make a living. In a way, the earthquake gave me the opportunity to act for my community. I was given the opportunity to act on behalf of the artisans, to help them move on and to build a new chapter in their lives.
Artistry is instinctual here. It is engrained in every Haitian. Music, poetry, painting…we are gifted like that. It is a rich culture, a rich spirit and I am a part of that. I am living in that. That’s why I am a part of this.
Above right: Pascale, second from left, meets with artists in Jacmel.
Left: Pascale, right, consults with a woman as she develops papier-mache pieces for a Macy's order.