HCX Lakou NOU Artist Residency Program
In rural Haiti, the Lakou communal living system embodies the intersection of land, family, and spirituality. Lakou members develop reciprocal patterns of resource sharing and jointly work the land. Lakou NOU (“Our Yard” in Haitian Creole), HCX’s newest program, is a creative adaption of this traditional model. This project provides four artists of Haitian descent with the opportunity to create and present new work by connecting their skills and talents to four traditionally underserved Brooklyn neighborhoods, home to generations of Haitians and Haitian-Americans: Crown Heights, Canarsie, East Flatbush, and Flatbush.
Positioning their own creative talents as a component of a collective commons, the artists selected via an open call will further their own artistic visions through support from community assets. HCX will facilitate the formation of partnerships between selected artists and neighborhood entities, including community centers, small businesses, and local cultural institutions. These relationships will engage artists with challenges and opportunities unique to each “lakou” and afford access to valuable resources, such as spaces for exhibition or studio practice. Artists will also support each other through conversations around topics relevant to Lakou NOU projects, such as cultural preservation and art in public spaces.
After receiving over 25 applications, the Selebrasyon! Advisory Committee chose the following four Lakou NOU Residents based on their demonstrated commitment to the Haitian community and their proven artistic excellence.
The first cohort of Lakou NOU artists-in-residence:
Veroneque Ignace, is dedicated to achieving her long term goal to seamlessly combine her passion for Haiti, people, medicine, and dance in such a way that allows for large scale healing using choreography and writing. Her Lakou NOU project “Trending” focused on the trauma caused by safety-issues and police brutality in the neighborhood of East-Flatbush. Her final presentation took place at Brooklyn Fête and involved students at Erasmus Highschool and dancers from Kriyòl Dance Collective.
Sabine Blaizin, is a DJ focusing on the exposure and pleasures of African Diasporic music. As a Lakou NOU artist, Blaizin worked with Crown Heights residents on the effect of gentrification in the neighborhood. Her final presentation included a sonic-visual installation exhibited at FiveMyles Gallery in Crown Heights.
Rodney ‘Okai’ Fleurimont, is a self-taught percussionist and MC. He is in several bands that are based in Brooklyn, all representing the music of the African Diaspora. He is the lead vocalist and percussionist of Brown Rice Family and a percussionist/vocalist for Underground Horns. For his Lakou NOU project, Okai worked with the community of Canarsie and addressed issues of health and wellness in a musician’s life. Okai led a workshop at the Brooklyn Theater of Arts School in Canarsie with drummers of various Latin-American and African influences along with a health specialist.
Sherley St. Fort Davilmar, is a performance artist and is the founder of a dance company “La Troupe Zetwal”, startedin 2001. For her Lakou NOU project, Davilmar worked in Flatbush and addressed various issues: health/wellness, police brutality and gentrification in the neighborhood. Her project included a series of workshops and panels that took place at the Brooklyn Public Library.
Find out more about the Lakou NOU projects in our Archives.