Lakou NOU 2018

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.

In 2016, the programs inaugural year, Lakou NOU artists produced diverse multidisciplinary projects that drew connections between artistic practice and neighborhood concerns. Drumming set the tone for discussions about health and wellness in Canarsie. Dance navigated the topic of state-sanctioned violence in East Flatbush. Storytelling and video art explored gentrification that is taking place in Crown Heights. Over ten partners, including high schools, tenant organizing groups, libraries, and the national non-profit StoryCorps, were enlisted by our Lakou NOU artists to help them work with local residents toward addressing community issues and building on neighborhood strengths.

This year, Lakou NOU 2018 artists will be provided with a stipend of $7,000 for creating new art; the development, implementation, documentation, and evaluation of projects; access to a network of other artists, community leaders, and local organizations; a platform to showcase their work to varied audiences; and the opportunity to develop leadership skills while becoming more acquainted with social issues affecting Brooklyn communities.

Artists will engage in a curated professional development series designed to help them prepare for the challenges and opportunities that will come with cultivating and stewarding space for their projects. The series will introduce artists to the principles of social practice, community engagement, program planning and implementation, and impact assessment.

Meet Our Lakou NOU 2018 Artists: 

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Madjeen Isaac
 (Flatbush) specializes in oil painting, as she focuses on creating images based on her Haitian American culture. Growing up in a neighborhood where it is predominantly Caribbean immigrants, Isaac allowed her process to give her a sense of purpose from the memories and cultures that have shaped her. She says, “Flatbush is where I have lived most of my life. Flatbush is a place that emits culture and hustle. Overtime, I have developed a concern for immigrant youth and children of immigrants, becoming “Americanized” or assimilated out of fear, without reflecting back on the culture of their ancestors”. Her works are based on celebrating one’s existence and differences while showing patronage to the Haitian culture. Madjeen currently attends the Fashion Institute of Technology, and is expected to receive her BFA in Fine Art, May 2018.

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Richard Louissaint
 (East Flatbush) is a first generation Haitian-American filmmaker and photographer from New York City. Growing up in Queens, he was exposed to a wide spectrum of the Caribbean diaspora but was primarily influenced by Haitian and African-American culture. His obsession with music led to him to writing for music magazines and websites before pursuing a career as a photographer and filmmaker. His work centers on  people of color, especially those of Haitian descent,  through portraiture, film and documentaries. He has been published in Wax Poetic Magazine, MTV and the New York Times.  His work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba and he had his first solo show in Petionville, Haiti in 2014. And his films have screened at the Haiti Film Fest, New York Short Film Festival, and Newark International Film Festival. Richard also holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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Stefani Saintonge 
(Crown Heights) is a Haitian-American filmmaker and educator. In 2014 she won the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Discovery Award for her short film, Seventh Grade. Her documentary, La Tierra de los Adioses, won Best Latin American Short Documentary at the Festival Internacional de Cine en el Desierto. Her work, which focuses on women, youth and immigration, has screened at several festivals in the US and abroad. A member of New Negress Film Society, she is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Film and Video Grant, and works as an educator and adjunct professor in New York. She holds an MFA in Documentary Film Studies and Production.

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Sirene Dantor Sainvil 
(Canarsie) is a Haitian culture preservationist who used her passions to develop Fanmi Asòtò, a Haitian cultural organization whose drum performance, community workshops, and herbal teachings are rooted in Haitian Vodou. Sainvil seeks to encourage identity building for all Haitians but particularly for Haitian American youth. Paying homage to the asòtò drum, the mother of all African descended drums, her mission is to encourage identity building for all Haitians but particularly for Haitian American youth who are the next generation of Haitian culture and Vodou.

Meet Past Lakou NOU Artists Here.  

To learn about past Lakou NOU projects, visit our Archives.

Lakou NOU Funders 2018

About Our Programs

We seek to enrich the cultural landscape of New York City by developing, presenting and promoting a wide array of quality visual and performing arts, as well as educational and public affairs programs including:

  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Literary Arts
  • Youth Development
  • Artist Development
  • Public Forums
  • Community Building
  • Resources & Referrals
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