The award-winning Haitian-born multidisciplinary artist Nicolas Hyacinthe presents his powerful spoken word called “Ayisyen” (which means Haiti in Haitian Creole) and shares a thought-provoking artistic discourse at his 2021 in-person solo exhibition called Carrefour / Crossroads in Malden, MA.
Coincidentally, the president of Haiti at the time was assassinated days before the opening of his in-person exhibition and the country also suffered a massive earthquake days afterwards while still dealing with the catastrophic aftermath of the pandemic. Nicolas speaks about the beauty and resilience of the community, the profound significance of its language, and Haiti’s rich and complex history:
Here, in his poem “Aysiyen,” Nicolas so eloquently shares how the Haitian Creole language is like the everyday song of the people – a symphony strung together to create a revolutionary movement and a form of a “call and response” used by ancestors as a secret language to escape slavery. Haiti still continues to be oppressed in different measures by both European and U.S.A powers as their everyday becomes a battle for true liberation. However, despite the oppression, what is hidden in the media is that Haiti also continues to be a thriving magnificent land full of lush nature, riveting water, and cheery & propitious people — this was and always is Nicolas’s intention in many of the images of the Carrefour / Crossroads exhibition, as showcased below with both his photography paired with his poetic-prose:
“Years ago, I was blessed to capture this portrait in L’Azile, Haiti. This king, this giant, sat amongst his neighbors ad listening to the plans for developing his village.
As a photographer, I captured the image; but as a human being, his eyes captivated me. The depth, the strength, the vulnerability, fierceness, and hope in those eyes have lingered with me for years.
I don’t know if he survived the earthquake. I know the church where that picture was taken did not. I know that L’Azile suffered a lot during the quake.
Haiti is my heart and the people are the blood that keeps it beating.
I don’t consider myself lucky living abroad.
I am forever lucky to have been forged in Haiti.”
“What use would a jeweled crown bring when daily she balances the world on her head while catching the stars in a wicker basket.
Haitian Queens carry a people beyond the possible.
Royalty, not anointed but realized in the sun & the soil!
This portrait of the fruit vendor was captured in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Her determination, grace, and strength transcend the frame.”
“A king that wears a golden crown is only concerned with how the light reflects off his jewel, but a man that serves his people knows that he must be a teacher, a dreamer, a builder, an emancipator.
He eventually will wear all the hats needed to create and save.
Haitian Kings trust that the sweat of their brow glistens brighter than the rubies on a gilded crown. A glistening that eases any darkness that comes and helps his people shine.
This portrait of the hat vendor was taken a few years ago in Camp-Perrin, Haiti.
His poise, strength, confidence, resilience, and ingenuity left an impactful impression, and resonates through the years.”
“Haitian Creole is a mother’s tongue voicing a father’s song. Sounds that are sweeter than the sugarcane yet sharper than the machete. Emoting syllables that seduces angels and flays demons. Rendering consonants that pierces armor and strengthens the spirit.
The words linger on the lips as they moisten the air precipitating sentences that floods the heart with poetry and rebellion. Speaking Haitian Creole is like shaving sugarcane. The language strips away the calloused scars of colonialism to reveal a delicious stalk of history and culture that is rich and nourishing.
This portrait of the sugarcane vendor was taken in Aux Cayes, Haiti.
His eloquence, charm, and grace was appetizing as the produce he was selling.”
So many rare moments of the unsung heros and heroines are shared through these profoundly vivid images and prolifically poetic words, allowing us to bare witness to their extraordinary lives, and the illustrious stories they must have carried within them everyday.
Below are the Carrefour / Crossroads exhibition flyers, showcasing some of his photography and other artwork:
While the struggles of the Haitian people after enduring their most recent destructive earthquake with the backdrop of political turmoil is only a hot topic on the news when convenient for the U.S. media and U.S. geo-politics, their challenges continue, especially with the cruel treatment by the U.S. government to their refugees at the border. So it is important to note that support is always needed. Please consider sending a donation to these reputable organizations to support some of the disenfranchised Haitian communities – take a look into their websites & Instagram accounts.
On the left are the Instagram handles of many Haitian-centered organizations suggested by Nicolas Hyacinthe. Below are the links to the organizations’ websites. Please consider sending a donation of an amount in any size:
FOKAL: Open Society Foundation Haiti
Fonkoze: Empowering the Poor Across Haiti
Haitian Women For Haitian Refugees
A glimpse into Nicolas Hyacinthe’s tour of his solo virtual 2020 exhibition of Carrefour / Crossroads at Urban Media Arts Gallery in Malden, MA during the devastating height of the Covid-19 pandemic:
In the midst of the gruesome pandemic, his exhibition stood as an exceptionally noteworthy portal to the community’s ongoing courage through storytelling, unrelenting power of artistic expression, and undeniable fortitude in the face of all wavering obstacles.
In all his work, one can see that Nicolas Hyacinthe is an astounding highflier of an artist and a visionary of the people, delicately interweaving their voices in his craft so viscerally that we can hear the untold stories booming across oceans. According to Nicolas, Haiti is known as the “pearl of the West Indies,” and here through his inspiring poem, “Ayisyen,” we witness the unfolding of the birth of a nation’s revolution and the pearls of wisdom encircling us to take action in effort to fight for justice and liberation in solidarity with one another and for all.
*** Disclaimer: All general political and artistic views written in this article are written from the lens and perspective of the writer / mixed genre editor and does not reflect the views of the artist nor the partnering organizations.