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Haitian Art and Historical Architecture intertwine at Villa Kalawes

At Villa Kalewès, a gingerbread-style building in Port-au-Prince, Kolektif 509 hosted “Elements of (de) Construction,” an art exhibit featuring two talented young artists: Valerie Noisette and Phaidra McQeen Sterlin.

Noisette greeted us with sparkling eyes and a smile, a kindness almost out of the ordinary. Born in Queens, New York, in 1982, Noisette lived part of her childhood in Chicago, then Miami before finally returning to Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake. She co-founded Kolektif 509, an association of more than 60 artists that promotes Haitian art. Displayed on the ground floor, her art encouraged a dialogue with human forms, geometric elements and sacred symbols—a conversation, as the artist describes it, around words, the supernatural, the divinity, the human, the universe and the emotions.

After immortalizing the impregnable atmosphere of Noisette's works on the ground floor, we took the stairs to explore the second part of the exhibition, presented by Phaidra McQueen Sterlin. Born in the United States and raised in Haiti by a single father, she lets herself be carried away by feminism, love, Haitian daily life, religion and craft culture. Ingrained in her roots, Ms. Sterlin does not hide her love for her parent country; she even requires the use of the mother tongue, Creole, to describe her emotions.

Photographer Kesler Bien Aimé, who has also exhibited many times at the Villa Kalewès, graced the event with his presence, as did other painters and personalities such as Rebel Layon and his wife Amakeda.

According to the organizing staff, the art must be highlighted, and the Haitian artists have as much need to make contact with the public to get fresh ideas. With this in mind, the exhibition brought together, structured and enlarged the universe of artists of Kolektif 509.

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