Haitian children's photos of quake devastation exhibited tonight in Westport
The Westport Arts Center this evening will formally open, "Hope in Haiti," an exhibition showcasing the resilience of the Haitian people after the earthquake in January 2010.
An opening reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the WAC gallery, 51 Riverside Ave. The exhibit will be on display until May 8.
Three months after the earthquake devastated Haiti, Helen Klisser During, the arts center's director of visual arts, visited Haiti with Carma Foundation founder, hip-hop and R&B artist, Melky Jean, sister of Wyclef Jean. The foundation works to improve the health of poor women and children in Haiti by utilizing media and pop culture to boost awareness. The Carma House orphanage in Leogane, about one hour outside of Port-au-Prince, was flattened during the earthquake and the homeless orphans were living in a tent city.
Klisser During planned to offer photography as a creative outlet for the orphans, so she brought 50 disposable cameras to distribute to the youngsters. After arriving in Haiti, with the help of a Creole translator, she gave an impromptu photography lesson to the orphans.
"I told the children how sorry I was about what had happened to them and that I thought maybe today we have some fun with these cameras," she said in a statement from the arts center. None of the children had used a camera before so they learned how to look through the lens and frame a subject. "I said, for example, look at this rock. It may look pretty boring, but maybe if we look at it from the ground up, it becomes much more interesting. We were learning to look at the world a little bit differently, hopefully capturing precious moments on that journey."
The children were given the cameras for 48 hours and told to take pictures of where they lived, their friends, animals, or anything else that caught their interest and imagination. Their photos will be on display in the WAC gallery -- one or two from each child's camera.
"Their images are very honest and unfiltered, and allow us a first-hand view into the lives of these children that have overcome extreme adversity with hope," said Klisser During.
The exhibition will also include a selection of photographs by Klisser During from her trip and London-based photographer and philanthropist, Elizabeth Jordan, who has created light boxes from photos of Haitian Tap-Tap buses. These vehicles are common in Haitian cities, and display stylized messages such as, "Trust in the Lord and Do Good."
Hope in Haiti will be on display at the Westport Arts Center gallery through May 8 during regular gallery hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.