Advertisement
 
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Amsterdam, NY ,

 

Advertisement

In Miami, Donna Karan showcases Haitian artisans

Saturday, May 18, 2013 - Updated: 3:11 PM

MIAMI (AP) -- The handbag Donna Karan was showing off Friday lacked her signature logo, or any designer's logo. It was made of paper mache and, the fashion designer said, represented Haiti's handmade carnival masks -- in wearable form.

She said the tote bag and other similar fashion and decorative items made by Haitian artisans are part of her "dressing and addressing people" campaign: taking art to where the most people will buy it.

"A painting can say anything, but let's get it out there in the world where people buy T-shirts," Karan said at the opening of a Little Haiti Cultural Center exhibition of art, accessories and furnishings produced by artisans in Haiti and sold through Karan's Urban Zen Foundation.

It's no charity craft fair. The items artfully displayed in the Miami gallery would sell in any mainstream home furnishings store. What sets them apart is their origin: handmade in Haiti from stone, wood, metals and textiles sourced or repurposed in the Caribbean country.

Tobacco leaves are molded into neutrally colored vases. Strings of crystals dangle from wrought-iron chandeliers. Naughty, charming, seahorse-shaped figures cut from tires strut in lines across a wall.

Discarded cartons and wrappers have been coiled into beads for multi-strand, statement necklaces. Fully functional tote bags are made from recycled cotton T-shirts or paper mache ("It's so durable, it's scary," Karan said).

The exhibition also includes oversized metal work by contemporary Haitian artist Philippe Dodard. He also is the director of Haiti's national arts school and is working with Karan to train Haitian artisans with techniques that will help them bring their traditional skills to a global marketplace.

"What we have to do is give them the tools to produce a product that is equal to their competition. That doesn't mean factory. That means artisanal," Karan said.

Karan started her Urban Zen Foundation after the death of her husband in 2001. A Haitian employee at the foundation urged her to turn her focus to the Caribbean country after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake three years ago.

Karan is among the designers, celebrities and retailers who have advocated for Haitian artisans amid ongoing, sputtering reconstruction efforts. Many of the artisans lost tools, studios, homes and loved ones in the earthquake.

"She understands what we as a people, what we as a government, want to do with our art: show the world the riches of Haiti and commercialize it," said Haiti's consul general in Miami, Francois Guillaume. "But, we don't want to lose our identity. We don't want to lose whatever it is that makes Donna Karan like Haiti that much."

The "Discover Haiti Exhibition" will run at the Little Haiti Cultural Center for two months.

     

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Advertisement
Montgomery County Research Report

 

The Recorder Sports Schedule

 

The Recorder Newscast

Most Popular

    Players' union asks to hold NFL's Goodell in contempt
    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Napoli, Red Sox top Angels
    Monday, May 25, 2015

    Sawyer Fredericks' mom reflects on son's fame
    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    The voice of a nation
    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Voters approve school budgets
    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    ABC has strong week thanks to music awards
    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Cart veto override in doubt?
    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Sawyer's loyal fans stick with him to the end
    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Tryon eyed as medicinal cannabis grow site
    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Isabella R. Damiano
    Thursday, May 21, 2015

Advertisement

Copyright © Port Jackson Media

Privacy Policies: The Recorder

Contact Us

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook