December 1st, 2010
03:27 PM ET

Art as healing after Haiti earthquake

Philippe Dodard couldn't pick up a paint brush in the month following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Many of his friends perished as a result of the disaster, and he found himself having no reaction when he would get calls about a new death.

"It’s only when I started painting, all of my emotions that were buried inside started coming out," he said.

Dodard, a prominent, internationally recognized Haitian artist who works in Port-au-Prince, is participating in Haiti Art Expo 2010, an event taking place this weekend in Miami, Florida. The collection features works by Dodard and many other Haitian artists, as well as American artists. All of the proceeds from the sales of these works will go toward refugees and artists who have lost their homes because of the earthquake.

Dodard sees art as a way of dealing with and healing from catastrophe. He helped create a program for thousands of children called Plas Timoun, meaning "place for the children," which allows kids to express themselves through artistic activities such as painting, music, and theater, in addition to sports and games. The classrooms are converted buses at two locations in Port-au-Prince and serve children ages 6 to 10.

"I spend most of my time working with the children so that they recover from the disaster using art," he said.

The young artists at Plas Timoun have some of their work displayed at the Smithsonian African Art Museum in Washington, running through January 16. It has been so successful that it will become a traveling exhibit, Dodard said.

Dodard completed the painting above, called "Inner Force," before the earthquake, but its message is highly relevant: finding one's "inner force" - the power or strength that we have inside - that helps us develop spiritually, emotionally and physically, he said.

"After the earthquake, there was so much problems, so much to carry, and still keep on living and still keep on doing your work. And without that force, I don’t believe that I could do all that I’ve done this year," he said.

The work blends spiritual references from Japanese, Haitian, and Indian cultures, and includes Dodard's interests in the traditions of samurai and yoga. The color red represents the spirit of fire, Dodard said, and the texture of the painting gives a "feeling of something vibrating," he said, "the silent vibration of the drum." He tried to capture something magical that goes beyond the shapes themselves, he said.

"It’s a kind of communication between the form and my inner self," he said.

Haiti Art Expo 2010 opens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Miami's Mosaic Building, and is hosted by Venus Williams (tennis superstar), Andrea Berto (Haitian-born World Welterweight championship boxer), Fabrice and Patrick Tardieu (of the clothing line Bogosse) and Jerry Powers (of PlumTV). It was produced and organized by Michael Capponi and Jeff Feldman, who have both been active in helping relief efforts in Haiti.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. b

    hii, how do i print this??

    December 1, 2010 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. B. A.

    Wow, is that painting impressive. I love it and I'm not artsy. I wish them well.

    December 1, 2010 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. artgrrl

    Philippe Dodard has done so much for the children's well being in his work at Plas Timoun! Thank you for your kind and generous spirit in sharing your talent and concern.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kim

    I pray you get a good dose of compassion some how.

    December 3, 2010 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Pedro

    Unfortunately,your kind still exists.

    December 3, 2010 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsPaul08

      God has a special punishment for YOUR KIND.... you regret that you have to work for a living

      December 3, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Paul Ronco

    Yeah, I suppose art will do when dying for lack of antibiotics and promised U.S. aid money isn't enough to get CNN's attention.

    December 3, 2010 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. artsydodo

    im only 12 and im an amazing artist and i hope by the time im old enough illl be in one of these charities.
    that paintings cool

    December 4, 2010 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. peter compton

    I thoroughly enjoyed the piece. I just wanted to comment on the fact of art for healin. i'm in my 40's and have severe pain issues i deal with. for the last 10 yrs has become almost constant. I have found art is one of the things i can manage to do. It allows me to say what i can't describe. and also go wherever i want. some of it leans toward the dark side sometimes. but it does help me through everyday. i draw under the name g.Niward (gee niward on facebook), if u have time chk out my (2) art albums in photos. open to all. i hope it lets people remember we all hurt sometimes, and the ones with faith endure whatever they are dealt and do so w their heads held hi. i hope ur art raises lots of $$$$$$. g.Niward

    December 4, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. aloe

    Art is therapy for your soul and mind....

    December 4, 2010 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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