Today is a sad day for the queer community in Jacmel. One of our dear friends and teachers at JE has lost his partner this week. This young man was in his mid-twenties and was a talented dancer. He was also an intelligent, always smiling and brought a little happiness and laughter to the room when he entered.
The details of his death are not clear at this moment. The only news we are getting is that his family would not take him to the doctor because he was gay. It is hard for me as an American to process this information and understand why his family would not give him the respect as a human being in need. All at once I feel the pain of being queer and knowing that this could have been me if I had been born in Haiti, as well as the knowledge that this could not happen to me because I am American and I do have the resource I need.
Stories like this happen in Haiti all the time. It only re-affirms that queer friendly spaces are needed and that we need more support to give Haitians the resources needed to live a healthy life. It is a painful reality for JE and our friends in Gran LAKOU, a queer friendly dance troupe, that we have to sit and watch this happen because we do not have the funding to fully support our members and the queer community. Please consider giving a donation to keep the center open and help us continue to provide a safe space for the artists in Jacmel.
Here is a link to an interview I did with a Chicago blog, The Qu, on the harsh reality of being queer in Haiti. Your hearts go out to our friends and community as they deal with this loss.
-Sue Frame, Director Jakmel Ekspresyon
The Intro to Design class, taught by Elijah Pfotenhauer, covered many intro level ideas of designing multiples and drawing skills. He taught the students how to show light through shading and how to create images by layering shapes on top of each other. The students had alot of respect for Elijah and his lessons. Thank you Elijah for sharing your skills and your experience with all of us.
Meg Turner is currently in Jakmel and building on Elijah’s lessons. Using the techniques of color layering and stencils, Meg is teaching the members how to create font. The goal is to create a library of fonts for future use. She will also be helping our dear friend, Jerry Gildea, build out the new screen printing studio. Jerry is part of our network of supporters for JE. He has helped build a birthing center in Jacmel, muled in diapers for the tent towns and given us travelers a nice bed on our layovers in Miami at the Boiling Point Collective. It will be amazing to have shelving in the space for all of our class supplies and a new studio.
We are still working on a shoe string budget. Rent will be coming up soon and we have alot of supplies to ship in. Your donations keep this center running and these artists would not have this opportunity with out your support. Please consider a donation. Every donation helps us reach our goals.
JE’s next residency artist, Meg Turner, will arrive in Jakmel this Sunday! As described on her web page is “Meg Turner is an artist and printer and explorer.” This is exactly the type of artist we appreciate. She has organized multiple community print shops, including NOLA in New Orleans and finds herself in the role of artist, teacher and administrator. We are excited to have her experience at JE. Meg’s personal work focuses on buildings and structures in decay. This will be an excellent chance for her to explore 300 year old french colonial city. Many of the buildings are in decay due to lack of funds and yearly hurricanes. New Orleans and Jakmel have a deep connection through culture and architecture. We can’t wait to see what she will create.
Meg will be teaching the final design class in the Screen Printing Program. She has been in contact with the previous resident artist, Elijah Pfotenhauer, to create consistency in the curriculem. This class will continue with teaching design elements and will introduce Photoshop in our new Mac computer lab. By the end of the month students will have images ready for the first Screen Printing class.
Check out Meg Turner’s work at http://www.megjturner.com/
Spare Change Theater is in full swing again. This year SCT has partnered with Troupe Roussan Camille. With seventeen new participants soaking up everything like sponges the group is planning on touring Haiti with a new production in May! Aaron Funk is acting Artistic Director and Joshue Noel is the new Director of the theater group. We at JE are excited to see what new heights this artistic duo will bring to the table. Keep tuned for more. If you want to support activities for young adults in Haiti you can help us by donating. Even five dollars makes a difference and helps us pay the bills.
We post so many posts about how many awesome things are happening at Jakmel Ekspresyon. At the same time there are so many frustrations that need to be acknowledged too. The potent title refers to one of the hardest dilemmas we face in Haiti, trash. We desperately want to be environmentally conscious people and actively promote recycling, composting and more. This issue is one of the hardest for our visitors and volunteers. There is no great way to get rid of your trash in Haiti. Most trash gets burned and the rest gets tossed down a sink hole that most likely goes to the ocean. Everything from bio-hazards to plastics. Even if everyone in town made awesome sculptures, toys, seed cups and more, some would still need to be burned.
I do not want to talk about the pre-existing trash problem in Haiti though. It is a reality that we continue to struggle with. What is just as hard or harder than our daily trash output is how we bring in equipment and how that feeds into the trash stream. As a grassroots we receive donations of used equipment from individuals and companies. They have been essential to providing the programming at JE that so many people are benefiting from. We appreciate every donation we get.
We have received a generator, projection equipment, a computer lab, tools, cameras and video cameras. Alot of these things still work beautifully today. Others seem to have a short life in the harsh environment of the moist tropics. All equipment is used and has a shorter life span to start. Than the dust and moisture work there magic on the equipment too. We have lost three projectors, multiple cameras, a flat monitor and one Mac computer. These items empower the workshop leaders to have the most impact on the members as possible. It also gives the members resources for them to create and propose projects. One of my favorite member created activities was Cine club. Two of the members showed a movie every Sunday night. Now we are using Aaron Funk’s projector he paid for. The use is limited as everyone knows how precious this resource is and we don’t want him to loose his projector too. So we need another donation.
Now what do we do with all of our dead donations? Alot of this equipment is not available in Haiti and therefor cannot be fixed there. I think the most people would be able to scavenge is the wiring. We cannot bring home some of the larger items in our luggage. Most of us do not pay for an extra bag on the way home. All of this electronic trash is sitting in our building taking up space because we can’t bear to throw it into a fire or the ocean. Soon we will have to do a house keeping. We are not at the point of throwing it away yet. Most of our electronic trash will probably go to the KOLAJ collective. Most of them are sculptors and use found objects. This still does not account for al of our broken equipment.
It is hard to bring used equipment to Haiti knowing it will die quicker here and make its way to the trash stream. On the other side of the sword, if we do not bring these things, the members would not have access to a computer lab to create resumes and portfolios. They would not be able to construct stages for Spare Change Theater. They would not be able to experience film on the big screen and lectures about art. We still need to bring in sound equipment and more cameras. We need more professional lighting. We just need more even if it is just for a short time. Otherwise we would not be able to support our membership and their motivation to learn.
Just a thought on one of the harder aspects of working as a grassroots organization in Haiti. Again, we appreciate every donation we get and need more.
Please help us to keep providing resources to the community of Jacmel by donating here.
Dedicated to our patron saint of the arts, Flo McGarrell.
It has taken us two years to receive computer lab equipment donations, fund shipping, install electrical back up system and find a volunteer to install the lab. Why two years? As a grassroots organization, we depend on small donations from our supporters. The shipping alone cost us $7,000 to move the computers, projection screens and generators from Chicago to Jacmel. That equals 6 months in rent payment for us. The computers are desktop G5′s and their security depends on a constant electrical system. In Haiti, the electric grid is unstable and has rolling black outs twice a day. These rolling black outs happen at inconsistent times. Therefor the lab needs a strong electrical back up system. The generators rely on expensive gas and are too loud to conduct workshops near. Through our partnership with MweM Foundation we received an inverter and battery array. We have borrowed the money to buy un-interupted power supplies and build tables. The current back up system is still not adequate for the amount of power the computers need. So we have limited time to run the lab if a black out occurs.
The lab is usable now and is an amazing resource for our members. In March members will start learning how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. This is just the beginning! With this resource we are able to provide music workshops, professional development workshops, and expand our future digital goals. We currently do not have the financial resources to pay for internet or a proper electrical back up system. Once we secure these funds, members will be able to do research for their personal projects, take online classes, and upload their work to an international platform through social media. We are also exploring the use of rapid prototyping machines and how this 1st world technology can help artisans in Haiti.
We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this goal without dedicated supporters through donations and volunteerism. We cannot move forward and improve this resource without your help. Consider a donation today that will make a difference to local Haitian artists in jacmel. Click here to donate.
Recycling Parade: Costumes
Recycling Parade: Thanks
Recycling Parade: Giant Kite
Part of Jakmel Ekspresyon’s mission is to create a safe space for all people to express themselves. For Karnival 2013, JE collaborated with KOLAJ and FOSAJ artists to create a recycling parade. Trash is a terrible problem in Haiti. Most trash, including recyclables, are burned. There is no true public system outside of Port au Prince (PauP just set up a recycling center for the first time a year ago). The artists want to make their city a more beautiful and safe space. They work to find innovative ways of using plastics in their sculptures. We are looking for more ways and more volunteers to come in and help problem solve this issue in a creative way. Like community gardens, hanging wall gardens, more sellable toys, public sculptures. Leave a comment for us and let us know your ideas about recycling.
Of coarse none of this can happen without your support. If you like what you see and want it to continue visit our Donate page.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us to raise rent and money for the new screen printing residency program.
So many times organizations come try to do something epic and amazing, only to discover how hard it is to run a grassroots project in a third world country. Then like a flash in the pan they leave. This creates an impression on the community that most internationals will give a few gifts, talk alot of hype and leave real quick. With our supporter’s dedication we are helping to create a different impression. One of solidarity and community. We could not do this without you.
The administration, volunteers and members that keep this art center running are working hard to make you proud of supporting us.
The Indiegogo campaign to help fundraise for our first artist residency is coming to a close. We only have a couple hours left so if you’ve been waiting to make your donation this is your chance.
This campaign not only helps Jacmel artists become more self sufficient and introduces new artists to Haitian culture, but it also marks the beginning of our partnership with Burners Without Borders and the Burning Man Project.
Special thanks to the Burners who are making this amazing program happen!
Click here to see the Indygogo.com campaign.
May 2007, Festival Mizik
Today we remember all of those who were lost to us in the earthquake of 2010. It is hard to think or write about the losses that were closest to our hearts and souls.
Like many organizations in Haiti, Jakmel Ekspresyon was born out of this tragedy. The earthquake took the life of our dear friend and inspiration, Flo McGarrell. Flo was a transgendered queer artist that lived in Jacmel, Haiti. He was the Director of an art center called, FOSAJ. When he realized how harsh the prejudices of Haitian culture could be for marginalized people, he actively promoted FOSAJ as a safe space for these people. As a queer artist and a forward thinker, Flo saw the value in diversity and each individual’s voice. He believed that everyone should have the chance to express themselves. He motivated the creation of the first queer friendly dance group Gran LAKOU. Gran LAKOU is still working and performing in Jacmel.
In Flo’s absence, several Haitian artists and the Director, Sue Frame decided that a new space dedicated to non-discrimination should be created. This was in May 2010. Since then JE has continued to cherish and serve Flo’s vision. There is an altar space dedicated to Flo so that all the young people who come to JE will know him and the difference he is still making in Jacmel.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us to continue Flo’s vision. We are grateful and look forward to your continued support. If you feel so moved visit our donation page and send a note with your donation. We will post it on the website for you.