Saturday, January 16, 2010

Culture, Crossroads, Color

Haiti, its recent unnatural disaster, its spirited inhabitants, and its brilliant diaspora are steady on my mind. Today, in addition to following the post-earthquake updates, I've been listening to roots music and scouring the internet for inspiration and light. I am trying to balance the images of the devastation of my birthplace (injured bodies aching in wait, starving orphaned children, mass graves set amid rubble) with evidence of all the beautiful dynamic magic its descendants make. Of course this attempt to maintain visual (and sonic) equilibrium isn't working. But here we go...

Boukman Eksperyans (one of my favorite bands ever) has been building heart-affirming revolutionary mizik rasin since the 1990s. Their distinct sound combines Vodou rhythms, electric guitars and powerful, earthy vocals. As international aid workers struggle and delay to bring relief to the people of Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, I wanted to share and echo Boukman's call to Papa Legba, the spiritual gatekeeper and guardian of the crossroads.

Open the gate. Clear the path. 
Remove the obstacles.

I also came across Haitian-American sister-designers Shirley and Marjory Bruno. Their Brooklyn-based company, Miss Bruno, recently launched a stunning line of handmade batik dresses, whimsical rompers and smart-looking scarves. Images from their promotional campaign―From Bamako to Brooklyn―were inspired by the photographer Seydou Keïta whose work I admire. 

Last but not least, a loving shout out to Myriam Chancy, a gifted Haitian-Canadian author, scholar and friend. She has updated her website with a list of resources as well as an interactive memorial for lost and departed loved ones in Ayiti. 

Please continue to financially support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti: Lambi Fund & Partners in Health.