Archive for the ‘Ti Atis’ Category

Ti Atis | Introducing Teaching Artist Maxine Montilus – by Jessica Tong, Communications and Outreach Intern


shocphoto_maxine_634-Edit_web_We are excited to have Maxine join the HCX team where she will be teaching a 10-week arts residency, Creative Expression Through Movement, at PS 189 The Bilingual Center, as part of our Ti Atis program held in collaboration with HAUP’s after-school program for middle-school students.

Maxine Montilus is a native of Brooklyn and a first-generation Haitian-American. Maxine has a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance from The University of the Arts, and an M.A. in Arts Management from City University London. As a dancer, Maxine is currently a member of KaNu Dance Theater and Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, and has performed with Ase Dance Theatre Collective and Balasole Dance Company. Maxine is also a 2014 EMERGENYC artist with New York University’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics. Maxine has presented work at the “Being Bushified!” culture and community series hosted by Urban Bush Women, The Actors Fund Arts Center, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, Dance New Amsterdam, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club and the inaugural Rex Nettleford Arts Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2014, she choreographed for BallyBeg Production’s third play and Equity-approved showcase, “The Taste Of It“. Maxine has also had a long career in arts education, and has coordinated programs for healthcare facilities, public schools and individual nonprofit arts organizations.

We are thrilled to partner with HAUP, an organization with a long history of service and commitment to our communities, to continue our ongoing commitment to the children of PS 189.

Join us on October 4th as we celebrate HAUP‘s 39th Anniversary! CLICK HERE for more information.

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Archive: Fly a Haitian Kite Workshop at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center



On June 22nd, P.S.189, The Bilingual Center hosted their annual school fair. Haiti Cultural Exchange was there hosting Fly a Haitian Kite Workshop for students and their families.

In Haiti, the iconic six-sided kite is traditionally constructed out of bamboo and paper. In recent times, however, it has become a common sight to see children’s kites constructed out of the colorful plastic bags that litter their neighborhoods. HCX used this creative adaptation to teach a lesson about recycling through Haitian culture. Students used recycling plastic sheets to build their sails, decorated their kites with tissue paper, and made tails from an array of colorful fabric scraps.

Approximately 30 children worked patiently on kites with the help of HCX volunteers, along with their friends and families while they learned the delicate process of bending the bridle post and binding the center of the kite frame. Even parents struggled a little!

At the end of the day, kites and spirits soared as HCX said goodbye to P.S.189 for the 2013 school year. Take a look at some photos from the workshop here.

A special thank you to our HCX volunteers that came out to lend a hand and the Citizens Committee for New York for supporting our youth program.

To all our Ti Atis and students at P.S.189, have a safe and fun summer! See you in the fall.

What to have a little fun of your own? Try out this fun summer activity and build your very own hexagon kite!

Traditional Hexagon Kite Tutorials
Moderate to Hard


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Archive: Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center



HCX began a two-pronged session of Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center, in February 2013. The session included a photo narrative workshop for 6th & 7th graders led by photographer Richard Louissaint and a collaborative mural project for 4th & 5th graders led by visual artist Jules Joseph.

The Photography Narrative Workshop offered 13 students an opportunity to experience working with an unfamiliar medium. Students began the workshop with a study in photo critique, where they were asked to view books by photographers from around the world. They were encouraged to share their ideas about the aesthetics of the photographs and to reach a consensus on the meaning of each image.

Many of the kids felt that the photos of Brooklyn neighborhoods during the summertime were the best, particularly one of a football casting a shadow against a blacktop.  The group felt that it captured the moment from so many angles: the energy of the game, the moving shadow, and the finite number of days in summer. Following the critique, students were introduced to Richard’s impressive collection of vintage films and modern digital cameras. He explained the basic features of cameras such as the F-stop, shutter, and ISO speeds.

2013-03-15 15.13.05 8616484417_cf43e0006b_b2013-03-15 16.14.48

Subsequent sessions explored the elements of composing a photo, deciding a focal point, filling the frame, getting in close and, most importantly, experimenting! In a series of exercises with cameras provided by HCX and the Photography Department at Pratt Institute, students visited other after-school classrooms and sites around the school grounds to test out their knowledge. For the final project, they selected a storyline for which they had to take five photos explaining their creative focus. The completed photo narratives were displayed on the Ti Atis Afterschool Workshop bulletin board outside the school’s main office.

The Collaborative Mural Project brought together a total of 24 4th & 5th graders to create an indoor mural. Through a series of brainstorming workshops that responded to the theme of “Knowledge is Power,” students created symbols, pictures, and patterns that were later interpreted by the instructing muralist Jules Joseph. Students used a range of idea-generating techniques and mediums to explore the mural’s theme; in one exercise they learned about the significance of different symbols, in another they experimented with mixing colors. These exercises contributed to the development of their artistic skills and to their understanding of the role of the arts in fostering community.

2013-03-22 10.58.43nefatali working on mural_D9A5725

After an incident that involved a huge puddle of paint and some very blue hands, the students cracked down on the mural fabrication. Students worked on the wall with intensity and focus, making sure to stay within the mural mock-up and use the correct color code. Over the course of 3 weeks, they worked with Jules to paint and plan the 165 sq. ft. mural and add their own touches in the blue background where they painted icons representing their concept of knowledge. Jules also integrated photos of three of the workshop students (left to right: Cameron, Nefetali, and Mercedes) into the mural design. It was interesting to observe the new ownership of the wall that the students expressed to their classmates “Don’t touch the wall! It’s not ready! It’s not dry!” and at passing classrooms of students, “Please, don’t lean on the wall yet. We’re still working on it.” Many of the student and staff bystanders pointed to the three portraits in progress and tried to guess who the students were. Others were curious as to how we got the images so big, Ti Atis students rushed to explain the process of grid-work and using a projector to create a blown up image. The completed mural presents images of students in contemplative poses bound together by green vines which symbolize the ever-increasing unifier of knowledge.

Click here for more photos of this session of Ti Atis Afterschool Workshop.

The dedication ceremony took place on May 3rd before an audience of workshop students, their peers, P.S.189 administration, and HCX staff. In front of the completed mural, student artists and their peers were encouraged to respond to the new mural and what meanings came forth. Students spoke to the reinforced sense of school pride and how this mural stands as a symbol for their love of learning and overcoming “larger than life” obstacles. Later, the group moved to the photo exhibition where the featured photographers talked about their process and difficulty working with photography such as perspective, timing, and lighting. The students also talked about how their effort to capture something specifically led them to see something they hadn’t originally been looking for.


Working with the students reinforced in me the need for the arts in compulsory public education. The meshing of ideas and perspectives witnessed during this session made evident that some situations can only be answered through collaborative and creative thought. As school districts all over the U.S. continue to whittle down their arts programs (what they consider elective activities), the opportunities for our young people to learn innovative thought processes and the importance of constructive self-expression is dwindling. Through programs such as Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops and the many arts-based afterschool programs blossoming across the country, we as teachers of the next generation must continue to give our children the tools for an innovative, inclusive, and culturally-informed tomorrow.

If you believe in the change we are making at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center, consider making a designated donation to HCX | Youth programming to support Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops and our other youth programs.

Amount: $

In the donation memo line, designate your gift to HCX Youth Programs.


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Archive: HCX | Ti Atis Collaborative Mural Project at P.S. 189, The Bilingual Center


Ti Atis te fè gwo bagay (Little Artists did big things)
by Kassandra Khalil

During this spring’s 2-pronged session of Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center, Haiti Cultural Exchange and a team of eager (and patient) volunteers gave their time and energy to the completion of the Ti Atis Room Renovation in February and the Ti Atis Collaborative Mural Project in June.

To say the Ti Atis Collaborative Mural Project was a team effort is a massive understatement. The session of afterschool art classes began with a group of students dedicated to learning together and supporting each other creatively. Through a series of exercises, the students learned not only to appreciate the individual merit of their own works but of their fellow students’ work as well.

(click photos to enlarge)

Meanwhile, in the school yard a team of volunteers and artist Jean Patrick Icart-Pierre began formatting the mural. Our first Saturday workday was priming day. We transformed a rather garish dusty brown wall into a lovely peach canvas.  The second step was building a massive grid on the 40′ by 14′ wall. No easy task for a small team with a bit of chalk line and no basketball players. Nonetheless, we managed.

The plan for the mural integrated elements of Haitian culture as well as the theme of the mural that the students created. This theme, “Love is not just a word but a way of life” was the students’ way of expressing their feelings of love and respect for their fellow students, community members, and heritage. With this in mind, a plan was drawn that would incorporate both the students’ motto theme and their artwork as well as themes of Haitian art.

Our second workday overlapped with P.S.189’s School Fair Day. Under a sweltering sun, a team of approximately 25 volunteers traced, brushed and sponged out the major content for the mural. Broken up into cathedral-style windows, the mural allowed for us to incorporate more of the students creative elements and what visual symbols they associated with the theme of the mural.


The mural incorporated the silhouette of the students holding hands, hearts, a palm tree, drawings from the students’ work and the P.S.189 sun insignia. The students felt all of these elements were important ways to visually represent their community and school. We began filling in these essential elements on the third Saturday workday. Students filled the background of their silhouettes with hand and heart cut outs while adult volunteers painted in the large birds and figures in the middle of the mural. There was also some light touching up to do that our muralist Patrick just wouldn’t let go!






By the end of the third workday, we were all feeling pretty good about ourselves. The kids were distracting themselves from the finer details by escaping to the nearby jungle gym before taking off for the day. When the adult volunteers  finally finished, signed and stood back from the mural,a long series of satisfied sighing and chest bumping directed towards the wall kept us hanging around the school yard until custodial staff shooed us out the gate.


The mural unveiling took place on Friday, June 22nd, 2012. Smack in the middle of an intense heat wave that had been rolling through the North East, it might not have been the hottest day I have ever encountered in New York, but it was safe to say it was pretty close. As about 10 classroom’s worth of P.S.189 students filed out of the school into the yard, I found myself praising their patience and support of their fellow students under such steamy conditions. Students who participated in the session of Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops were invited to come forward and talk about what they learned while working on the mural. Many of the children were really proud of how they were able to work together and that their ideas were used in the mural. Following the students’ impressions, Principal Berthe Faustin celebrated the work of the kids and thanked the volunteers for brightening up the schoolyard at P.S.189. The P.S.189 Haitian Dance Troupe then gave a short but powerful performance for the audience. After a rousing applause from the children, the classes broke for the ice cream social and volunteers said their final good byes to a group of kids that had touched us not only with their creative spirits but with the openness, kindness, and community that makes the students of P.S.189 so special.

Special thanks again to our volunteer coordinator Jeanne Heiftz, muralist Jean-Patrick Icart-Pierre,  and Mr. Almonord of P.S.189  for making this project such a wonderful success!
This project was made possible in part by Citizens Committee for New York City and Brooklyn Community Foundation.

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