Year 3 – Meet the Lakou NOU 2018 Artists:

Lakou NOU 2018 artists were provided with a stipend of $7,000 in order to build projects and activations that addressed pressing community-informed issues. Community health workshops centered the holistic healing traditions of Vodou in Canarsie. Placekeeping through digital storytelling highlighted the impact of Haitian-owned businesses owners in the rapidly gentrifying East Flatbush. The activation of networks ranging from social services organizations, local cultural institutions, community media outlets, and neighborhood gardens brought artists and their Lakou together to creatively discuss pressing issues facing the Haitian community such as the revocation of Temporary Protected Status, displacement/gentrification, health and well-being, and cultural identity.

Artists engaged 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 introduced artists to the principles of social practice, community engagement, program planning and implementation, and impact assessment.

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Madjeen Isaac (Flatbush) led workshops on cultural empowerment through visual art for middle school youth at Haitian-Americans United for Progress that centralized identity, heritage, and imagining home. Later, she led a public guided tour of her exhibition “Flatbush Island” which represents how Flatbush residents have reclaimed and built structures of living, forming a vibrant geographic and cultural community.

Madjeen Isaac 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 received her BFA in Fine Art from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

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Richard Louissaint (East Flatbush) developed project Istwa Nan Je Yo (History In Their Eyes) captured stories of East Flatbush business owners who shared stories of changing times and neighborhoods, the role of businesses in galvanizing a community and its economic impact. Interviews have been subtitled and are available here. A screening of select films and a conversation with Herold Dasque (Haitian-Americans United for Progress) highlighted placekeeping efforts of East Flatbush.

Richard Louissaint 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) gathered anecdotes and interviews from TPS holders, their family members and allies in Crown Heights and throughout Brooklyn, documenting the current state of relations between Haitian immigrants and the US. Saintonge shared an excerpt from a feature length documentary on Jean Montrevil (co-founder of NSCNY). A panel with representatives of BAJI, UnLocal and New Sanctuary Coalition of New York offered a direct, informational session on the experience of deportation and ICE surveillance. They also shared lesser known resources and strategies for TPS and undocumented immigrants.

Stefani Saintonge is 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) used activations as a member of Fanmi Asòtò, a cultural organization which uses drum performance, community workshops, and herbal teachings rooted in Haitian Vodou to center traditional practice in Diasporan context. Meshing in discussions and workshops that shared the history of Vodou and the role of herbalism in its practice, she pushed forward dialogues on positive cultural identity, inclusive community health practices, and environmental stewardship.

Sirence Dantor Sainvil 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.

Year 2 – Meet the Lakou NOU 2017 Artists:

Lakou NOU 2017 artists were provided with a stipend of $3,750 for 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.

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Diane Exavier (East Flatbush) used her Lakou NOU residency to develop her original play Good Blood. With “Each Body is a Miracle,” Exavier delved deeper into some of the play’s issues and themes of immigration, partnership/intimacy, and health through social practice. She segmented her project into three parts: 1) field notes, where she asks, what health issues are most affecting the lives and bodies of Haitian community members in East Flatbush today? 2) community crafting, where she facilitated a floral crown making workshop, related to the Haitian traditional practice of plasaj, where participants of any age can attend and through a brief meditative   exercise, decide the conditions under which they want to live, and 3) reportage, an exercise in active dramaturgy, combining research and documentation with live performance. She aimed to compile her field notes into a brief report on pertinent health issues facing Haitian residents in East Flatbush and create a photobook sharing portraits from the Community Crafting event. Both will be available to view and peruse at a final reading of Good Blood, the play that serves as inspiration to this entire residency.

Diane Exavier creates performance events, public programs, and games that challenge viewers to participate in the active realization of a theater that rejects passive reception. She is also an arts educator with a pedagogy that focuses on creating reflective spaces for young people. Her work has been presented at Westmont College, California State University: Northridge, New Urban Arts (Providence), West Chicago City Museum, and in New York: Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, Independent Curators International, Medialia Gallery, and more. Her most recent play Good Blood was workshopped in residency with the Flea Theater. Her writing appears in Cunjuh Magazine, Daughter Literary Magazine, The Atlas Review, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind.

Read about Diane’s culminating event click here.


Glenda Lezeau (Canarsie) Canarsie’s Konpa Celebration was designed to celebrate the beautiful sounds of Konpa and Haitian Culture in a community that is historically Haitian and that lacks convening spaces so integral to building and sustaining communities. With a community dance fitness session, Konpa dance showcase, and special musical performance by the artist herself, Glenda Lezeau builds a celebration that uplifts Haitian music and dance while allowing people to come together as one. The event will feature Konpa music all throughout, catering by Fleurimond Catering, and special giveaways!

Glenda Lezeau is a lover of all things Konpa from the keyboard solos to the dance moves. She is a piano player determined to shed a different light on Haiti by sharing the sounds of Haitian music along with its beautiful culture. Her passion for music strengthens and intensifies as she advances a movement of positive, inspirational music that is powerful enough to impact others. With over 20 years of training as a pianist and violist, Glenda has performed at many high profile venues, including Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Plaza Hotel and New York’s City Hall. She holds a diploma in Instrumental Music from Fiorella H. Laguardia High School of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Read about Glenda’s culminating event click here.

Jasmine Plantin (Flatbush), a textile and fashion artist, in #PWOTEKSYON, explored culture as mode of protection for the Haitian Diaspora in Flatbush through a two part evening, beginning with a panel discussion between Caribbean creatives highlighting how their heritage influences their work and introducing students to different artistic fields. The evening ended with an exhibition of narrative wearable art that she has developed in partnership with Haitian artisans highlighting the different periods of Haitian history.

Jasmine Plantin was born and raised in New York and has been surrounded by art and design since she was a child. She attended Parsons the New School for Design and Central Saint Martins for her undergraduate degree, where she was nominated for “Designer of the Year” and graduated with a BFA in Apparel Design in 2013. While pursuing her degree she apprenticed with design studios Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra and Phillip Lim until she graduated and began designing menswear for Greenpoint based company Outlier. Her work in textiles and fashion has appeared in international publications, such as Teen Vogue and Oyster Magazine, and has been displayed in Saks Fifth Avenue and at exhibitions in Paris, France.

Read about Jasmine’s culminating event click here.

Nubian Nene (Nadine Sylvestre) (Crown Heights) believes that basic human services are things a town should provide its residents. A Crown Heights resident, Nubian Nene has observed the way residents contribute to street pollution. In “Crown Heights Creatives,” Nubian Nene documented the personal perspective of residents on the matter, assessed the community needs, raised awareness about the presence of local street farms, gardens and the availability of healthy foods in our grocery stores, and engaged the creatives of Crown Heights to share their skill set, expertise and teachings to mobilize the community. She pulled from her Haitian heritage by creating a video series of her dancing in community gardens, connecting the dots between Crown Heights, its residents, and herself – a Haitian-Canadian woman living in Brooklyn. Nubian Nene portrayed Kouzen Zaka, the agriculture/harvest/hard worker lwa further enforcing the idea of community action.

Nubian Nene is known mostly for her Waacking and House dance styles. Her ultimate goal is to constantly inspire through actions, words and dance.  She has performed at Fringe Festivals with KINEMATIK Dance Theater and at the Cultch Theater in Vancouver with ‘Bboyizm’ Dance Company. She has also been featured in music videos for Jose James and Michelle Williams alongside the likes of Beyonce and Kelly Rowland. She has taught at the Unity Festival in Toronto, the Ladies of Hip Hop Festival in Vienna and NYC, the Illadelph and Funky Fundamentals Festivals in Philadelphia, and at the International Waacking Festival in Los Angeles.

Read about Nene’s culminating event click here.

Lakou NOU 2017 Advisory Committee: Sabine Blaizin, Alicia Boone, Sherley Davilmar, Okai Fleurimont, Veroneque Ignace, Kassandra Khalil, Wynnie Lamour, Régine M. Roumain

Year 1 – Meet the Lakou NOU 2016 Artists:

In 2016, the programs inaugural year, the first four Lakou NOU artists to participate in this program are true community activists, and received a $2,500 stipend to produce diverse multidisciplinary projects that drew connections between artistic practice and neighborhood concerns in Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie. 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. Their projects dealt with urbanism, place-making, community-building, public health, and empowerment at a time in US history when the Afro-Caribbean people of Brooklyn needed it most.

20160926-sabine-blaizin-crown-heights-jute Sabine Blaizin, a New York based DJ who spins Afro-Soul, combines sounds of the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. In her project based in Crown Heights, Blaizin created a soundscape with stories she collected from Haitian members in the community affected by gentrification. To collect those stories, Blaizin was very proactive in connecting with Crown Heights community leaders and attending neighborhood meetings relevant to her subject. On October 26th, she held holding interviews at the HCX office in Crown Heights with volunteer residents. Their stories were recorded by StoryCorps and archived in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Blaizin has performed with DJs in various cities in the US, Canada, Dakar, Mexico, Cuba and Haiti. In answering how it feels like to travel to different countries and come back to the US with new material, she explains that she reaches a different level of connection with her crowd. Listening to her music mixing conversations, deep reflections and words of wisdom, one can already imagine how inspiring and challenging it was for Blaizin to piece together sounds of grief, displacement, nostalgia and disappointment in Crown Heights. The feelings that are attached with the “Haitian flight” in Crown Heights can be assimilated to all the forced migrations people of black heritage experience. Gentrification is an ongoing occurrence in Crown Heights. It is bittersweet to foresee that the residents’ experience is ready to be archived for the memory of future generations. Blaizin’s project also brought an opportunity for those residents to reflect on their situation with an approach that might have revealed new depths in their understanding of what gentrification means in their lives. Read her event recap here.

Ignace is a dancer and public-health professional who wants to heal through the power of dance. This has been an important goal for her since working on her thesis at Williams College. In a powerful video introduction of her thesis, she explains that the experience of Black students studying in predominantly white institutions can be traumatic and should be taken into account in their academic performance. The result is a dissertation and choreography in which her dancers interact with the audience and make them face this issue with movement.

How does her experience as a dancer and academician at Williams differ from her role as a healer in East Flatbush? “In East Flatbush my work is not a show” she responds. In East Flatbush, Ignace created a platform and outlet for the youth to deal with emotions that are not always addressed. It was an opportunity for her to truly practice skills of dance therapy and respond to the youth’s reaction to violence in their neighborhood. “Some of them are afraid to leave their house” Ignace explained in an HCX Ann Pale.

The title to Veroneque’s project was “#Trending” and through it she encouraged the young Haitian-Americans and youth of East Flatbush to express their feelings about the trending deaths in the Black community – Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, more recently Keith Scott… unfortunately, the list goes on. How not to feel overwhelmed? Dealing with the growing numbers is a challenge that Ignace was willing to tackle as the youth of East Flatbush grapple with the violence they witness in their community. Read the event recap here.
Rodney ‘Okai’ Fleurimont,
is a percussionist and MC who is interested in the importance and benefit of a healthy diet in a musician’s life. In recent experiences traveling with his music band, he realized that, beyond the fatigue of traveling through different time-zones, the meals his colleagues consumed had a direct correlation with their performances. Okai has previously taught at PS 189 in Brownsville, Brooklyn as a Ti Atis teacher via HCX and his experiences leading workshops and various other initiatives, made him realize that there is a pressing need for the youth in the Black community to think about their diet. Issues of diabetes and obesity are prominent within the youth of the black community.

With his project in Canarsie, Okai partnered with various drummers, masters of Afro-Caribbean and West-African techniques, to teach students how to play the drums. Each session began with a class on exercise and diet. Okai’s goal is to inspire the Haitian-American youth to keep their passion for music alive by understanding that they need the physical strength to carry their musical instruments around and also to play for hours without collapsing. There were many other benefits in participating in Okai’s workshops. Discipline and team-work are the qualities he has seen his students acquire as they learn how to play the drums. They understand that it takes great team-work and perfect coordination to carry out a nice melody. Read the event recap here.

Gentrification in Flatbush

Sherley Davilmar, working in the community of Flatbush , hosted a three part series of workshops that  all took place at the Brooklyn Public Library on Linden Boulevard. The themes covered included “Health Beauty and Wellness”, “Gentrification” and “Black Bodies” and sought to raise awareness of social issues faced in the black community including gentrification, wellness and the assault on black bodies as it manifests in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Charged with great information, Davilmar curated these workshops in efforts to answer the question “How Desensitized Are We?”

Part One: Part one of the series dealt with beauty, health and wellness in an interactive workshop that included a zumba, yoga and Haitian dance session as well as a panel discussion and hair styling demonstration. Children and adults alike learned to make their own hair and skin care products from natural sources they can find in their own cupboard.

Part Two: The following week Sherley invited a group of panelists who are activists and organizers in the Flatbush community to speak on gentrification in the neighborhood. The panelists included Imani of Equality4Flatbush, Mark Griffith, Executive Director of Brooklyn Movement Center, David Etiennne, an upcoming filmmaker, and Alicia Boyd, leader of Movement To Protect The People.

Part Three: The closing event of Davilmar’s residency was profoundly poetic.  It was an essential anecdote after the previous workshop. The introductory presentation dove right in to the subject with a reading of “Strange Fruit” a poem written by Abel Meeropol and was famously sung by Billie Holiday in 1939. The event proceeded with a powerful workshop by Veroneque Ignace, founder of Kriyol Dance! Collective, where she directed participants through a series of movements both individually and in partnerships in order to guide participants to tune in to the body and to use it to express one’s pain and joy.

The panel discussion that followed included Menesky Magloire, Sakena Sampson of Girls Empowerment Circle Inc., Veroneque Ignace of Kriyol Dance! and Resist. Restore. Inc., and moderated by Anthonine Pierre of the Brooklyn Movement Center. Read the event recap here.

Lakou NOU 2016 Advisory Committee: Winnie Lamour, Romola Lucas, Vania Andre, Daphne Leroy, Felicity Hogan, Alicia Boone, Stephanie Cunningham, Patricia Lespinasse, Carolle Charles, Farrah Louis, Petrushka Bazin, Régine M. Roumain.

To learn about the 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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