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Media Advisory/Press Release

New works by Haitian artists of “When our Brushes Shook” at exhibit at MSPP from April 27-May 11, 2012

Works of Art Show Emotional Shift As Time Passes

April 24, 2012–Boston (West Roxbury), MA–As time passes and some wounds heal, Haitian artists have begun to express more hope and optimism in their works of art, according to Charlot Lucien, funder and co-director of the Haitian Artists Assembly of Mass. (HAAM) and one of the founders of “When Our Brushes Shook,” an organization formed in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake to “revive” the work of the artists in the city of Jacmel, whose lives and work were devastated by the disaster. The emotional shift Lucien refers to can be seen in an exhibit from April 27 -May 11 at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) as part of the graduate school’s focus on global mental health this spring.

What: “When Our Brushes Shook” Exhibit of Haitian art after the earthquake

When: Exhibit begins April 27 with Reception from 6-8 pm and continues through May

Where: MSPP, 221 Rivermoor Street, West Roxbury

Why: Celebrate the artists, the exhibit and raise money to continue work of Haitian artists

Note: MSPP will also hold a professional conference to increase awareness of the unmet mental health needs of Haitians traumatized by the earthquake on May 5 titled Trauma and Mental Illness in the Haitian Community:Cultural Considerations for Developing a Broad Clinical and Research Agenda

“It seems as the country and the people pick themselves up and start moving forward, that movement is also reflected in the art,” says Lucien, who adds that being able to continue the work they love has also likely influenced the subject matter and feeling of the new works. The beauty of nature, the rebuilding of homes and just daily life seem to be more common themes in the recent paintings. Earlier paintings focus on death and the upheaval and anguish wrought by the earthquake.

The MSPP exhibit will include about 41 paintings, created since the disaster.

Since the formation of “When Our Brushes Shook,” more than 100 paintings have been completed and exhibited by the artists supported by the project, meaning many more are being created. Massachusetts, which has the third largest Haitian population in the US (75,000) is considered an ideal home for the project and the artwork, according to Lucien.

One young Haitian artist from Jacmel, Renold Laurent, now the Haitian-based coordinator for “When Our Brushes Shook,” says that after the earthquake much of his world had changed. He, like other artists, had lost the will and the ability to do art. “We had other priorities and we no longer had art supplies. For a while, he gave up his own art and spent time teaching even younger artists. “By teaching other artists I was inspired to start doing my own work again,” he said through a translator.

And, the “When Our Brushes Shook” project has helped keep his work going and has opened up communications with other artists in the US and especially in Massachusetts. “It has given us the funds we need for supplies, but also the opportunity for many of us to show our work in the United States,” he adds. An abstract painter, he claims not to be aware of a shift in his work as times passes from the earthquake. He says he will leave that for others to judge. “But I am very hopeful for the future of my work and the work of other Haitian artists, knowing that people outside of Haiti care about our art.”

Jacmel has long been one of the major cultural and artistic centers of Haiti and has relied on tourism for support. Haitian art has a diversity of style, ranging from more primitive to abstract, and a very characteristic Haitian vibrancy and color.

“When Our Brushes Shook” was founded by Lucien and others involved in recovery efforts following the earthquake. He had met some of the artists in 2003 when searching with Anne Anninger, a former art curator at Harvard University, for art for a Cambridge exhibit. Returning in the wake of disaster, Lucien and colleagues found the city and its artists isolated with no art supplies and their work destroyed. Back in Boston, Lucien, working with his colleagues, artists and poets of the Haitian Artists Assembly, raised funds and received some donations from Artist and Craftman Supply in Cambridge, thanks to manager Jeff Carignan.

“When Our Brushes Shook” is now a collaboration between HAAM, the Greater Brockton Society for Poetry and the Arts (GBSPA) and the Jacmel Artists Network, Since 2010 there have been exhibits at Boston City Hall, Lesley University, Brockton City Hall and Brockton Library.

MSPP’s is the fifth major exhibit since the project’s founding. MSPP’s exhibit will include Jacmel artists Renold Laurent, Didier Civil, Vady Confident, Macène Laurent, Veneret Patrick, Norestant Lamour, Wilbert Laurent, Michel Lamour, and Pierre Paul Ancion. New England artists include Fritz Ducheine, Charlot Lucien, Valentin Iviquel, Joseph Chéry, and Nixon Léger (Rhodes Island).

All the pieces will be on sale. Artists will receive 75 percent of the proceeds, and 25 percent will go into the “When Our Brushes Shook,” fund.

*Lucien will also be presenting, along with Josef Chery, an artist and the curator of the MSPP exhibit, at the May 5 conference for mental health professionals. They will describe the concept of the project and how being able to do the work they love is helping many artists to recover from the trauma of the earthquake.

For more information about the conference, click here.

To learn more about the art exhibit and reception, contact Gretchen Nash, Director of Multicultural Affairs/Community Service

About MSPP—Founded in 1974 as an independent graduate school of psychology, MSPP provides unique training programs for mental health professionals at the doctoral, master’s and certificate level, each designed to immerse students in both academic study and real-life clinical experience. Constantly assessing and evolving to meet the needs of the needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse society, MSPP currently offers programs to train highly skilled professionals to care for Latinos, veterans, children and adolescents and families in a variety of settings, including the schools, the courts, the community and the workplace, among others.

Updated 5/4/12

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