POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—The Vassar Haiti Project will once again create an outpost of a Haitian Village with the tenth annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction, from Friday, April 8, through Sunday, April 10, in the multi-purpose room on the second floor of the College Center, located in Vassar's historic Main Building. A preview exhibition will be on view from April 3 – 6 in the Palmer Gallery of the College Center. Proceeds from the art sale and auction will benefit the Haitian artisans and the village of Chermaitre. There will be an opening reception on Friday, April 8, at 5:00pm, which will include a screening of the documentary about the Vassar Haiti Project, directed by Vassar alumnus and Cannes Film Festival award-winner Alex Camilleri '10 as well as Vassar students Madison Silverstein '11 and Sean Morash '13.
The 10th Annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction will feature over 350 original Haitian paintings, handpainted silk scarves, iron sculpture, vodou flags, and a wide variety of handcrafts. All proceeds will benefit the four initiatives in Chermaitre, Haiti: education, reforestation, water, and health. The art sale will open on Friday, April 8 from 12:00 - 8:00pm with the reception at 5:00pm. On Saturday, the sale will open at 10:00am with the auction by Bill Rinaldi of Rinaldi Auctions from 4:00 - 6:00pm (registration and preview from 2:00 - 4:00pm, with absentee and telephone bidding accepted). The sale continues on Sunday from 10:00am - 2:00pm.
Some of the artists, whose work will be included are: Joseph Aderson, Raymond Beauduy, Albott Bonhomme, Reynald Joseph, Raymond Lafaille, Jean Laguerre, Fritzner Lamour, Eric Jean Louis, Pierre Maxo, Makenol Profil, Serge Pierre, and Yosephat Tissaint. The Vassar Haiti Project enables these Haitian artists and artisans to be self-sustaining through the sale of their artwork. Lila and Andrew Meade, who co-direct the project, noted that sales like Vassar’s are one of the only avenues for Haitian artists today to reach a marketplace.
"'Tipa, tipa' means 'step by step' in Haitian Creole and that is how this project has developed," remarked Andrew Meade, director of international services at Vassar. "This year, we're proudly celebrating our ten-year anniversary of creating change through art. We have an extraordinary legacy owing to the collective efforts of volunteers, organizations, our partners in Haiti, as well as the unwavering support of art buyers and donors. Our work has never been more important than it is today."
The Meades, who both have roots in Haiti, began in fall 2001 to work with members of the Vassar community to review possible ideas to channel their support. The one that drew everyone's attention was the village of Chermaitre, which needed educational support. Over the years, the project, has raised over $650,000, and began by funding a school lunch program and paying teacher salaries in Chermaitre, then funded the construction of a seven-room primary school building that now serves 340 students with nine teachers. Expanding outward, the Vassar Haiti Project's focus now includes supporting medical clinics, reforestation, a water initiative, as well as the Haitian artists and artisans whose work is on view during the Art Sale and Auction. Hundreds of Vassar students have supported the project over the years and Andrew Meade noted how each and every one of them has touched, and been touched, by the expressions of gratitude and joy from their Haitian friends.
In addition to the Art Sale and Auction, there will be a Haitian Comedy Night, featuring music and a great deal of laughter, on Thursday, March 31, at 7:00pm in the Aula, Ely Hall. On Saturday, April 2, there will be the second annual Reforestation Run on the Vassar campus. For additional information about these events and the Art Sale and Auction, see http://thehaitiproject.org.
“This year, through the annual Art Sale and Auction and the other activities, we will continue to celebrate the indomitable Haitian spirit—so vibrant, strong, and free that continually triumphs over disaster and adversity—and which is expressed so powerfully and colorfully in the nation’s artwork and music,” noted Lila Meade.
“The Vassar Haiti Project has gone through a lot of changes and evolved in wonderful ways to meet the needs of Chermatire over the last few years.” Said Samin Shehab ’11, co-president of the project. “The strength of VHP is reflected in its capacity to remain thriving while being in a state of constant flux. The tenth annual art sale and auction is a testament not only to the endurance of VHP but also the strength, spirit and resilience of the Hatian people.”
“This year is very special.” added co-president Claudia Sanchez ’11. “This sale represents ten years of working together with our partners in Haiti, ten years of interacting with Haitian art, and ten years of efforts to build better prospects for the children of Chermaitre.”
About the Vassar Haiti Project
Co-founders Lila and Andrew Meade grew up in Haiti and were inspired to found the Vassar Haiti Project nine years ago with the goal to provide some help to the population of a country that even before this current disaster had 98% deforestation, 70% illiteracy, and 50% unemployment.
Today, the Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) has more than 100 members and is an all-volunteer Vassar College organization. VHP maintains its initial commitment to funding primary education, while also pursuing partnership efforts to improve reforestation, education, access to clean water, and healthcare in the village. These initiatives include planting thousands of fruit and coffee trees on the hillsides around the Chermaitre; establishing water collection and purification systems in the Chermaitre, with the cooperation of Poughkeepsie Rotary; and with support from the Trinity Church in Fishkill, establishing the first medical clinic in L’Acul (a neighboring village of Chermaitre).
“Our goal has always been to create sustainability in our adopted Haitian community. In 2010, we brought two groups to visit Haiti, one in March during spring and fall breaks in March and October. The 12 Vassar students and four community members in March brought over 1,000 pounds of school, art, and medical supplies to Chermaitre and staffed a clinic for two days, helping many patients that hadn't received medical attention since the January earthquake. The October trip was focused on the purchasing the paintings for the art sale and auction and also assessing the situation in Port-au-Prince and meeting with several partner galleries, artists, and tent cities where they met with Jacques Roc and important partner for the project. The Vassar Haiti Project blog,http://blogs.vassar.edu/haitiproject, captures many of these interactions.
“The outpouring of support over these past ten years – and especially last year in wake of the earthquake – show the best of our global village,” noted Lila Meade. "We look forward to seeing all of our friends once more this year and sharing in the beauty of Haiti's country and people reflected through its art."
For further information about the Vassar Haiti Project and the tenth annual Haitian Art Sale and Auction, visit http://thehaitiproject.org.
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