Join Haiti Cultural Exchange’s Lakou NOU 2018 artist in residence Madjeen Isaac for an art exhibition and open discussion regarding cultural identity. The exhibition, “Lakay nou: Creating Flatbush Island through Cultural Identity,” will celebrate its opening on Friday, October 19, from 6:00-9:00pm, at the Beverley Social Club (1016 Beverly Road) in Brooklyn, New York.
Description: This exhibition of the Flatbush area reveals a juxtaposition between urban and tropical landscape. Unusual yet nostalgic because it feels like home. From merchants selling herbs and vegetables on the street, to cab drivers transitioning from tap-taps to dollar vans, these small businesses provide leeway for immigrants to adapt and work towards new opportunities. These paintings serve as a learning point about the lives of Haitian immigrants and first generation Americans residing within the community.
Madjeen Isaac (Flatbush) specializes in oil painting, as she focuses on creating images based on her Haitian American culture. Growing up in a neighborhood where it is predominantly Caribbean immigrants, Isaac allowed her process to give her a sense of purpose from the memories and cultures that have shaped her. She says, “Flatbush is where I have lived most of my life. Flatbush is a place that emits culture and hustle. Overtime, I have developed a concern for immigrant youth and children of immigrants, becoming “Americanized” or assimilated out of fear, without reflecting back on the culture of their ancestors”. Her works are based on celebrating one’s existence and differences while showing patronage to the Haitian culture. Madjeen currently attends the Fashion Institute of Technology, and is expected to receive her BFA in Fine Art, May 2018.
Her Lakou NOU 2018 project, “Lakay Nou: Creating Flatbush Island Through Cultural Identity,” stems from her last two years at the Fashion Institute of Technology; the recent works she created there are based on Flatbush itself, “…the neighborhood that has shaped me as well as contributed to my Haitian American upbringing.” Throughout her artistic journey, the cultural fusion she’s created with Brooklyn and Haiti landscapes allowed for her to tap into how her Haitian roots are manifested within everyday life in Brooklyn, and how immigrants have rebuilt their lives after settling in Flatbush.
The inherited lifestyle of hustle that Caribbean immigrants seem to withhold reveals their resilience through their long standing businesses such as, their transportation services known as tap-taps, storefront churches and merchants selling herbs in the street imported from the islands. All of which I have incorporated into my paintings. Although I was fully invested in the idea of merging both urban and tropical, my process also allowed for me to compare my younger self and my present self. Breaking barriers of stigmatism I’ve always been taught to believe of the place my parents came from. I realized that during my painting journey, the works I’ve created were deeper than merging two worlds together. It allowed for me to understand why preserving my observations and showcasing my perspective was crucial for me to claim my Haitian American identity. [. . .]