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This fall, the Art Museum of the Americas will examine life in Haiti with two exhibits, “Tent Life: Haiti” and “Young Haitians with Disability.”
Photographer Wyatt Gallery visited Haiti following the devastating January 2010 earthquake to chronicle the lives of displaced Haitians in the semi-permanent tent communities that have sprouted in the capital of Port-au-Prince. According to the United Nations, some 600,000 people still live in the sprawling tent camps nearly two years after the 7.0-magnitude quake, with many lacking basic services and vulnerable to sexual violence and cholera.
Gallery’s resulting photo series shines a light on these uprooted lives, young and old, working independently and creatively to improve their bleak conditions. The images are collected in a book, “Tent Life: Haiti,” and offer a visceral depiction of people facing tremendous challenges with undeterred resilience, relying on their own resourcefulness rather than outside aid.
Wyatt Gallery, a Fulbright fellow and former University of Pennsylvania professor, has been published in the New York Times, Esquire, Mother Jones, Newsweek and other publications. In 1998, after graduating from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Gallery began traveling the Caribbean photographing spiritual sites through a Rosenberg grant. He spent two years in Trinidad and Tobago on a Fulbright Fellowship, documenting its religious places, landscapes, people and homes.
Gallery’s work in Haiti offers a vastly different perspective. The faces of Haitians stare pointedly but honestly into the photographer’s camera, often surrounded by the blue-tinted hue of their makeshift tent homes or the debris-strewn landscape outside. Beyond offering a powerful visual essay on what daily life is still like for hundreds of thousands of Haitians, Gallery aims to help them as well. Copies of “Tent Life: Haiti” will be available throughout the run of the exhibition for $40, with 100 percent of the royalties going to the Haitian charities J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Healing Haiti, and the Global Syndicate. The book has so far raised more than $30,000 for Haitian relief.
Also on display is “Young Haitians with Disability,” made up of 28 drawings by young Haitians based on an initiative of the country’s secretary of state for the integration of persons with disabilities. Haitian youth participated in the drawing contest to highlight the importance of building an inclusive society and incorporating the concept of universal accessibility into the country’s rebuilding efforts.
The resulting drawings also showcase the talent of Haiti’s youth and their stirring message of finding opportunity in their nation’s post-earthquake odyssey.
Tent Life: Haiti
Young Haitians with Disability
through Dec. 2
Organization of American States Art Museum of the Americas
201 18th St., NW
For more information, please call (202) 458-6016 or visit http://museum.oas.org.
About the Author
Fresia Rodriguez is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.