While the people of Haiti continue to struggle with recovery from the devastating 2010 earthquake, the Charleston Artist Guild and Gallery (CAG) has decided to get involved in Haiti in a very hands-on way. How does a group of artists help this beautiful yet suffering land? By supporting Haitian art! CAG has formed a partnership through League of Hope, a non-profit group with a focus on Haiti that is run by Graham Huff, the son of Pat Huff, who is Co-Manager of Guild’s Gallery along with Mary Sayas.
Through League of Hope, CAG has chosen to support a Haitian artist named Duns Sylvaince. Graham Huff came to know Sylvaince initially through working with him as an English/Creole translator. Sylvaince is a very capable and self-motivated person, and in addition to teaching himself English and Portuguese and working as a translator, he immersed himself in art as a way to make a living. Sylvaince’s paintings include the beautiful emerald green and turquoise colors of the ‘Jewel of the Antilles,’ as Haiti was once known.
Sylvaince states that he tries to make his island-themed paintings look as if it has just freshly rained. He was the featured artist at the 2010 MOJA Arts Festival in Charleston and after seeing the popularity of his work at this event, this CAG partnership was born. The Guild’s main mission is to support artists, and this Haitian partnership will be a direct and meaningful way to help get people in Haiti back to work.
Duns Sylvaince was born in Anse-a-Galets on the island of La Gonave, located in the Gulf of La Gonave about 40 miles from Port Au Prince, Haiti. When we asked this talented young man for a biography, this is what we received (written in the third person)…
“Once upon a time there lived on the remote, poverty stricken island of La Gonave, Haiti, a 14 year old boy named Duns. In the village of Anse-a-Galets where there were so few things for young people to do, Duns loved going each afternoon to an American missionary home where he did pencil sketching under the watchful eye of the artistically talented missionary woman. Seeing a sketch pad and some markers for the first time, Duns willingly cleaned leaves out of her flower bed and watered the flowers in return for owning these coveted items.”
“Later, while a high school student in Port-au-Prince, he lived with his artist uncle and had the treat of sleeping in his studio. There he was introduced to the medium of oil paints, and the rest is history.”
“Duns speaks French, Creole, Spanish, Portuguese and English and enjoys teaching English when he gets the chance. He also enjoys translating for Americans who come to teach or preach on the island. Musically talented as well, he plays drums, guitar, and enjoys singing. He lives in his mother’s stick-and-mud house with a younger brother and sister whom he helps to support as he is able.”
A recent quote from the artist: “I find my inspiration in nature. My purpose is to give back to Haiti through my painting the greenery that she lost.”
Art tells a story, and this artist has a powerful story to share. Please take part in this CAG partnership by joining us at a reception at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery, 160 East Bay Street, downtown Charleston, on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, from 5-8pm.
Graham Huff of League of Hope will have current photos from Haiti as well more information about Sylvaince. You will also have the opportunity to view several of Duns’ beautiful emerald and turquoise depictions of Haiti.