Lakou NOU 2020 Artists Culminating Event

“The Lakou NOU residency has been a constant lesson in how to create with an open heart.” – Daveed Baptiste 2020-2021 Lakou NOU Artist

Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX) announces the 2021 Lakou NOU culminating event from 4-7 pm on June 19th in Rogers Tilden Veronica Place Block Association Community Garden, rain or shine, at 2601-2603 Tilden Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226

Haiti Cultural Exchange’s Lakou NOU artist residency program provides artists of Haitian descent with the opportunity to create and present new work by connecting their skills and talents to historically underserved Brooklyn neighborhoods, home to generations of Haitians and Haitian-Americans: Crown Heights, Canarsie, East Flatbush, and Flatbush. Lakou NOU artists develop collaborative community engagement projects that address neighborhood issues and highlight community assets. Artists in residence received individualized mentorship from HCX staff and interacted with each other as a cohort through discussion and support around topics relevant to Lakou NOU projects. HCX-facilitated additional professional development workshops with community activist Anthonine Pierre, Urban Bush Women, and artist Ariana Faye Allensworth.

The event showcases 2020-2021 artists in residence AnJu Hyppolite, Daveed Baptiste, and Guerdley Cajus’ exploration of what it means to be Haitian American, to belong to two cultures, two worlds, and to be Black in America, while also staying true to your heritage. It integrates performance and visual arts for an immersive experience.

Unlike traditional artmaking, where an artistic creation amplifies a sole artists’ perspective, Lakou NOU residents generated this work collaboratively with community members, weaving participants’ collective creativity into a rich and nuanced depiction of the struggles and triumphs of the Haitian American journey. “The power of this work lies partly in the high caliber of the artists’ craft, and partly in the shared authorship of its creation,” describes Lakou NOU Programs Coordinator, Emily Schiffer. “It was created over the past year and a half, with many pandemic-related adaptations. As a result, the work has an immediacy that reflects our times. It claims power in vulnerability and healing in human connection.”

The Rogers/Tilden/Veronica Place Garden is an apt location to showcase this work. The garden beautifies the community, holds space for community building, and prevents blight and unaffordable housing construction. The artwork is installed throughout the premises and is in conversation with the space it occupies.

The artists projects are as follows:

AnJu Hyppolite: (Canarsie) Project Unearth explores the multiplicities of identity within the Haitian-American experience. AnJu has spent the past year and a half in conversation with Haitian-American women. Her storytelling workshop produced a script describing moments of strength, power, vulnerability, learning/unlearning, and self-actualization. The women used their voices to stand in their truth, bravely and vulnerably, as they shared their experiences. The culminating event will feature a live performance of these stories, an immersive audio installation, and an interactive exercise with the event’s audience.

Daveed Baptiste: (East Flatbush) Through photography, printmaking, textile design, and kite making, Between Lands centers Haitian-American youths’ migration stories. On display at the culminating event are: Large portraits of graduating high school seniors that illustrate their dreams and imaginations in America; textiles with screen printed portraits, and handmade kites with printed designs from the participants in the workshops. Daveed worked closely with The Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project and  Rogers/Tilden/Veronica Place Garden to produce this work.

Guerdley Cajus: (Crown Heights) Body Poems confronts the ongoing erasure of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) voices by placing a lens on the untold stories of Haitian people. Guerdley spent her residency interviewing participants and leading workshops, in which individuals’ stories inspired movement that reclaims power and facilitates healing. Additionally, Guerdley danced at locations in Crown Heights where the brutalization of women took place to honor those women, cleanse those spaces, and claim Black female power. The culminating event features images from those performances and a dance video examining how erasure takes up space in the black body. Guerdley will also lead a movement workshop for the culminating event audience.