Online Auction to Raise Money for Boston-based Haitian institute

A self-portrait by Mathieu Jeanbaptiste.

Thanks to a group of generous Boston-based artists, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) will hold an online Haitian art auction beginning January 10, 2014.

The Andrew Square-based IJDH helps individual Haitians enforce their basic rights—in the courts, in police stations, and on the streets—in ways that force the justice system to work better for all Haitians. The featured artists all hail from Haiti and include Boston Haitian artists Charlot Lucien, Colette Brésilla, Renold Laurent, and Fritz Duchiene. The auction also features a self-portrait by up-and-coming artist, Mathieu Jeanbaptiste.

Jeanbaptiste lives in Carrefour Feuilles, Haiti and is an active member of the strong artistic community there. “We are united for the artist [dedicated] to giving one another color!” remarks Jeanbaptiste. He often finds inspiration from the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Remnants of Da Vinci’s influence are found in his self-portrait, which serves as a dark portrayal of the devastation the people of Haiti suffered during the outbreak of cholera. Jeanbaptiste notes, “I want to explain the misery of the Haitian people. After the earthquake, I was really traumatized. I was really violent in my work, because the way I do to survive was really bad. I was victim in spirit!”

IJDH is the US affiliate of the Port-au-Prince based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). Together, they protect Haitian human rights defenders under threat, seek justice for victims of gender-based violence, mentor new lawyers, and work to prosecute Jean-Claude Duvalier for his crimes. They also partners with cholera victims, citizens, legislators and journalists in the U.S. and Haiti in efforts to compel the United Nations to take responsibility for the cholera epidemic that has already killed over 8,300 people.

Contributing artist Charlot Lucien points out, “We are not just talking about those numbers. We don’t even count the millions of people who now have to deal with the fact that there are orphans—that they are going through emotional distress because they have lost a head of household who was bringing the bread and butter into the family. They are now going hungry and further exposed to infections because their immune system is weakened.”

When Colette Brésilla learned of IJDH’s efforts, she donated two of her still-life paintings to IJDH for auction. Brésilla believes that still-life paintings represent her culture more than any of her other works, and donated her works to help IJDH’s efforts in Haiti. She notes, “The responsibility people were supposed to take for something like that (the cholera epidemic)... they weren’t taking it until the lawyers had to go in.”

The art auction will benefit IJDH’s work for justice in Haiti and provide a unique look at Haitian life as seen through the eyes of the talented artists who contributed to the auction. To find out more about IJDH, the artists and the art up for auction, visit the IJDH web site at www.ijdh.org.