How Do Haitians Really Live?

Have you ever wondered how Haitian art fits into a home setting? Or how Haitians of all classes really live? The answers to both questions are answered visually in an exquisite, recently published coffee table book in an oversized, horizontal format. With minimal text in English and French, “Interieurs d’Haiti” by Roberto Stephenson and Marie-Louise Fouchard is a treat for the eyes. When a Haitian friend visited my home recently from Canada, she saw the book and immediately went to Libreri Mapou in Miami for two copies — one for herself and one as a housewarming gift for her sister in Brooklyn.

These lushly photographed homes are sometimes decorated with great Haitian art, including outstanding paintings by Saint Soleil masters Prospere Pierre Louis and Levoy Exil. One gets a sense of how Haitians of all classes live, perhaps most starkly in the juxtaposed images of a humble abode with clothing hung above the bed and walls decorated with newspaper and an all-white, tres modern home of sweeping architectural curves, a cold and monastic space suited for a person in need of calm. There are homes of artists pictured, too, in this remarkable book including the tasteful home of Philippe Dodard and his wife and the orange, shuttered living room with voodoo-inspired sculpture occupied by Mario Benjamin. Other artists with homes pictured are Barbara Prezeau (modern, comfortable) and Lionel Saint Eloi, who built his castle-like house in Port-au-Prince to resemble a tall drum. This is a book to savor for anyone appreciative of what goes on in Haiti, art-wise or otherwise.

– Candice Russell –