Haiti – Beyond the Ruins » Painted Prayers by Bryn Gillette

Reflecting back and looking ahead on the 4th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake

Bryn has spent the better part of the past decade painting about this troubled, yet inherently beautiful nation. Through his creativity and unique artistic style, he strives to keep both Haiti’s ongoing needs and its bright future in the forefront of the public’s mind. He recently finished a series of twelve door-size paintings (80”x32” each) entitled “Haiti – Beyond the Ruins” which are sponsored by the White Stone Gallery and currently on display at Cairn University in Langhorne, PA. On the eve of the fourth anniversary of this catastrophic earthquake, we are organizing a special symposium to be hosted by Cairn which will include reflections and remembrances on what was lost, personal testimonies of those involved in the rebuilding efforts, and a tour of the art show by Bryn who hopes his work will help the viewer envision a “Haiti – Beyond the Ruins.”

Among the guests of honor at the event will be Cairn University President Dr. Todd Williams, the president and several board members of Bryn’s non-profit Team One:27, Pastor Mullery Jean-Pierre of Beraca Baptiste Church in Brooklyn, NY, as well as Daniel Jean, a former Haitian orphan and current regional community leader in Haiti. It is Daniel Jean who personally inspired much of Bryn’s Haiti paintings.

The event will be held at the Connie A. Eastburn Gallery in the lower level of the Biblical Learning Center on the Cairn University campus on Saturday, January 11, 2014, from 2-4 pm. It is open to the general public and is free of charge. Light refreshments will be provided.

Haiti Beyond the Ruins Flyer (Cairn web)

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Beyond The Ruins: Arts

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Beyond The Ruins: Arts, Oil on Door Panel 32×80”

I will not attempt to tell you what these paintings are “all about” as the best pieces of the work came through me and not from me.  I invite you into the conversation, eager to learn from what you discover, and offer some ingredients of the imagery as a start to the dialog…

The “Arts and Entertainment” sphere of influence holds the pulse of a culture’s values, traditions, and emotions.  I am using the unifying image of the triangle again in this panel, only this time as a prism, which when rightly aligned will catch light and refract it into the entire spectrum of beautiful color.  I began this painting with that as the metaphor of the role of an artist.

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As a mentor and teacher of young artists, I chose to explore a theme in this panel about growing to our full potential as “rightly aligned” artists.  Each corner of the central triangle represented to me one of three things I believe is crucial to artistic development:

  1. Our personal intimacy with God- and our spiritual/emotional maturity and depth.
  2. The excellence and refinement of our artistic skill.
  3. Discovering how we uniquely integrate and contribute to community through our artistry.

Refinement of Skill

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Intimacy with God

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Participating in Community

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Beyond The Ruins: Media

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Beyond the Ruins: Media, Oil on Door Panel 32×80”

I will not attempt to tell you what these paintings are “all about” as the best pieces of the work came through me and not from me.  I invite you into the conversation, eager to learn from what you discover, and offer some ingredients of the imagery as a start to the dialog…

Here are three iterations of the image from the summer of 2013.  It began with a swirl of galaxies and supernova explosions inspired by Hubble telescope images.  My dear friend Corey Unger shared a concept of waveform movement inherent to communication that provided a foundation for the visual composition.

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It evolved into a fractal storm of triangles in chaos theory “waves” congealing into familiar vignettes of Media dissemination.

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By the end of summer 2013 I was exhausted.  I was nearing the end of my forth summer working on the series, many of my panels needed final details, and this final “Media” panel just wasn’t coming together.  I felt like I was giving birth to something enormous, and the labor pain vacillated between moments of shear wonder and paralyzed tearful sobs laying on my studio floor.  On one such afternoon of paralysis, after reaching out to my prayer team and asking for their intercession, I put my frozen brush down and just sat still in listening prayer.  I was overwhelmed by an image of a young Haitian (I imagined a girl) in the pounding surf of the ocean, head back, blowing a conch shell.  I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it was the Lord’s answer to my prayer.

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I decided to go down to my house and get reference images before starting, and was floored to find the image below of the “Freed Slave” was a Haitian sculpture right in front of the capital building of Port Au Prince, Haiti.  I’d been there multiple times, and never seen it behind the tent cities of earthquake victims!  Not only was this a native Haitian symbol bearing the very DNA of what I was trying to communicate, but he was strangely positioned in a near perfect equilateral triangle!  I went back up the hill to my studio and collapsed in relief.  Though I had “miles to go before I sleep”, the final piece of the puzzle had been revealed!  I felt the Father put His hand on my shoulder and gently assure me, “You are going to finish!”

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After becoming the capstone for the final “Media” painting, the “Freed Slave” helped serve to unify the series by finishing my first panel of the capital, “Government 1,” as well as becoming a “fractal” image in the “Religion” panel.

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Surface Detail

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Beyond The Ruins: Family

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Beyond the Ruins: Family, Oil on Door Panel 32×80”

I will not attempt to tell you what these paintings are “all about” as the best pieces of the work came through me and not from me.  I invite you into the conversation, eager to learn from what you discover, and offer some ingredients of the imagery as a start to the dialog…

This panel is my tribute to Daniel and Marjorie Jean, my inspiration and connection to Haiti.  Daniel was a “Sphere Champion” of Haiti long before I was aware of the concept, sacrificially serving his nation as a healer of the torn fabric of Family.  It is Daniel, a Haitian orphan himself, who is uniquely anointed to reach the orphans of his country.  By asking him, “what dreams has God laid on your heart for Haiti?”, my family began to meaningfully partner with the work in Haiti by empowering him as a sphere champion.

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I met Daniel in Jamaica as he finished his Bible degree in 2000, confessing even then his calling to return to Haiti and minister to the street children.  From 2000 to 2008 I got letters that he had rescued and adopted 5 children, 10 children, 21 children, 60 of the most vulnerable children in his area… and like a modern day George Mueller, was feeding and providing for them entirely by faith and God’s miraculous provision.  In 2008 my father Mark and I visited for the first time and were “adopted by orphans” into this beautiful Family.  Our family responded by drafting TeamOne:27, a non-profit to resource Daniel and other sphere champions.  Since 2008, his Family has grown to over 200 adopted children in 3 homes of blessing, and a “Church on Fire” of over 500 community members serving this amazing Family and their entire region.

Daniel and Marjorie are featured in Gold at the top of this tree, with their two biological children in the center, and many of their adopted children symbolically a double image of the growing tree.

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Daniel was recognized as a pivotal regional leader when his unshakable integrity and radical generosity provided for his community after the earthquakes of 2010.  As one example of his caliber, among many other responsibilities following the earthquake, Daniel managed the construction of over 2500 homes through Catholic Relief Services.

My father, Mark Gillette (Brudda Mark), as president of TeamOne:27, travels to Haiti on a monthly basis to support Daniel.  He has worked tirelessly to ship over a dozen containers and buses full of needed resources, fundraise, host American teams, and pilot a for-profit “PermaCrete” business in Haiti to generate self-sustaining resources for Daniel Jean’s Community.

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Through our years serving Daniel in Haiti, one thing we have constantly found is that it is not enough to address only one sphere of influence.  While we watch Daniel pour his life out for his children and his church, he is constantly undermined by the failed infrastructure of the government, the toxic cycles of Haitian economy, the inadequacy of the system of education, rule of law, etc.  To see lasting and sustainable change for Daniel, each of the seven spheres must be working together in healthy unison.  These paintings and this conversation were born from our frustration and the perpetual question, “What does it take to restore a nation?”

The Haitian national bird, the Hispaniolan Trogon, shelters two fledglings under either wing.

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Beyond The Ruins: Business

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Beyond the Ruins: Business, Oil on Door Panel 32×80”

I will not attempt to tell you what these paintings are “all about” as the best pieces of the work came through me and not from me.  I invite you into the conversation, eager to learn from what you discover, and offer some ingredients of the imagery as a start to the dialog…

Haiti’s “Business Sphere” is literally in ashes, with over 90% of the population unemployed.  The charcoal business has symbolically burned Haiti’s economy with unsustainable practices, effectively stripping the land of trees and causing ecological and meteorological disaster.

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Champions of the business sphere will lead Haiti into sustainable practices of agriculture, energy, tourism, and business.

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Like a bee storing up honey for the benefit of future generations, a champion of business will deny destructive short term gain for a legacy of long term growth.

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Here are three stages of the painting from summer 2012, spring 2013, and summer 2013.

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