Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Globe and Mail (September 21) reports that Macy’s, the United States’s largest department store chain, has introduced its Heart of Haiti line of metal, ceramic and papier-mache objects d’art, vases and serving trays.

Brokered by New York-based Fairwinds Trading, a company that “specializes in connecting gifted artisans in ‘post-trauma’ communities with American corporations to build sustainable economic relationships,” this is Macy’s second “post-trauma” outing, the first being the retailer’s Paths for Peace line of Rwandan baskets.

Another player is the Brandaid Project, a Canadian non-profit “responsible for opening the channel between Macy’s and the artisan community.”

The Globe article, which appeared on the paper’s front page, is almost entirely positive, leaving only Jacmel papier-mache artist Onel Bazelais to sound the lone negative note: “My government has no plan for us.”

To hear that the Haitian government is not there for its people appears to justify the influence of U.S. consultants, financiers and retailers in determining the shape this country takes, something which does not seem to bother the artists in the article.

Croix-des-Bouquets sculptor Jacques Rony sees “a huge advantage” to working with “U.S.-based product designers,” those “who have exposure to seasonal trends.” Which leads me to ask, Since the 2011 spring season was plotted last summer, what can we expect from the western hemisphere’s second oldest democracy?

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