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Haitian Artist Shows Everyday Life in Gallery

By Yoly Zephyr
On March 1, 2011

A small, dark man was perched to the left of the entrance. His bright red shirt contrasted with his ebony skin as he swiftly sliced coconuts with a machete into a grocery cart.

The simple, honest portrayal of everyday Haitian life and culture showed no signs of destruction from a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and the resulting cholera outbreak and mass displacement in the SeJoe Collection, launched Thursday, Feb. 24 at the Tallahassee Community College Fine Art Gallery.

The collection is named after Joseph "Se Joe" Ducasse, 23, a Florida State University alumnus. Ducasse said the contemporary Haitian art dates back to 1960.

"The art captures Haiti's beauty and folklore," said Ducasse. "It is looking at Haiti through the artist's eyes. In this exhibition I choose the paintings with most vibrant and vivid colors; the pieces tell a story."

Ducasse was born in Brooklyn, NY, but was raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Ducasse said his mother, Marie-Denise St-Amand, first introduced him to art and had a wide network of artist friends in Haiti. Over 200 of the pieces were donated by Ducasse's mother.

It's a side of Haiti that people rarely get to see.

"I absolutely loved it," said Emmanuela St-Jean, 20, third-year student at Florida State University.

The Se Joe Collection will be open to the public until March 24. The collection will be open Monday through Friday 12:30-4:30 p.m. at the Tallahassee Community College Fine Art Gallery. The gallery will be closed during spring break.

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