Artists' Stories

The successes of the Sant Atizana Art Center, artist by artist, family by family, are defined both by the promise of economic stability, and the accomplishments of creative expression.
Josiane Magloire
Embroidery Group Manager
“I have done everything. I have tilled the fields and sold in the market. I have 6 children - grownups to school kids - and they are strong like me! I can sew and crochet and embroider. Working at the Sant has made me get better. It is my job to correct the others which they don’t like but it makes them better too. We laugh a lot. We have 13 artists now. One, Gladys, died but we still make work for her so her children can have some money.”
Carline Marcéus
Drapo Group Manager
“I came to Matènwa alone from Port-au-Prince to live with my uncle’s family about 10years ago. Port-au-Prince is so crowded, so difficult. Here I found a safer life. I knew how to sew on a machine but I had nowhere to use my skills, and I had no machine. When Ellen asked me to manage the new group of women I was very afraid and shy. I thought they would not respect me. But we have been working together for a long time. Sometimes we have problems but we find a way. Everyone got better and better at their work. I met my husband Jean Claude here and now we have two pretty children. When the earthquake came we were all together sleeping at the Sant because we were afraid to go back to our houses!”
Maculeuse Louisjuste
Former Manager of Scarf Painting
“I was brought to Matènwa when I was young. My family couldn’t keep me anymore. But I went to the Lekol Kominote Matènwa and Chris Low took care of me. I was one of the original seven artists that Chris and Ellen taught how to paint scarves on Chris Low’s veranda. The first rule was if we were still in school we had to keep going. We had never drawn anything before so it took time to do it correctly. Chris also taught us how to keep records of what we made. Then we taught the next group how to do it. I’m one of the best painters because I’ve been doing it the longest. I have children now who will all go to school.”
Martine and Serette
Martine and Seurette Rivière
New Scarf Painters
Martine and Seurette Rivière are sisters from a family of seven girls and two boys. Their mother Venez Kasimir was one of the original artists, a former manager of the group, and loved by all. When she died after a long illness the artists voted to pass on Venez’s job as a silk painter to the two sisters to share so they could continue to help feed their younger siblings. “We had watched our mother paint since we were little,” they said, “So we already know how to do it.”
Edens Cathyl
Printer and Painter
Edens Cathyl came to the Sant as an undernourished 13-year-old with enormous eyes and serious demeanor. Long and thin, with the dry skin of an old man, Edens had been given by his mother to his uncle’s family. In spite of his quietness, the school principal recognized Edens’ intelligence and artistic ability and sent him to the Sant to learn to make art, which he practiced with energy and concentration. Now Edens’ talent is coming into full bloom: “First I learned how to make silver jewelry with two other students. When that program ended I learned how to paint and make prints and now I make my own drawings. I never forget how much I learned about art, things I would not have learned otherwise. I want to go to art school. I want people to love my drawings so I can live.”