Drapo | Commemorating the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake

Rising Team - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced a catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0. The death toll has been estimated at over 150,000 souls lost, and the damage to an already vulnerable Haiti rallied international humanitarian aid from across the globe. Commemorating this horrific event, Haitian artisans poured their hearts and souls into the making of Drapos. These meticulously beaded and sequined flags called “Drapo” (Drapeau -Flag- in French) are one of the only visual art forms to have sprung from Haiti’s roots in West Africa. Artists at Rising International’s partner group Art Matènwa spend two to three weeks to complete a large piece; One bead, one sequin at a time. Artisans make formal images based on spiritual traditions and events.

Drapo originated with enslaved Africans in the Caribbean who brought with them Vodou, an ancient religion that engages a complex pantheon of deities and ancestors, each with their own needs, rituals and symbols. Sewn originally from scavenged materials to bear the symbols of specific gods, the glittering drapo were carried in processions or worn by dancers to draw the presence of the spirit into the room.

Rising International is proud to offer two exquisite, heirloom-quality Drapo as gifts with a $1000 donation each. There are only two available, first come first serve. Click here to donate today!

Drapo 1:

Souls Rising
January 2010

Drapo 2:

Angel of Mercy
January 2010

Artist: Naida

Drapo information courtesy of Art Matènwa

Photo Credit: Jean Bathke | Rising International

Artisan Spotlight: Art Matènwa, Haiti

Rising Team - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Maténwa is a hidden community in Haiti. Difficult to get to, no phones, no electricity, no running water, no real roads and unknown by most Haitians, Maténwa has little direct access to the outside world. Since 2004, Rising International has supported The Art Matènwa Program. The program’s mission is to foster the artists’ determination to survive creatively — through art, education and economic security. 

Makilez’s Story
“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 three little children now who will all go to school.”

Photo credit: Ellen LeBow/Art Matènwa

Click to view a product from the Art Matènwa Project