Inspiration behind "Byen Vag"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
When I was 11 years old, I visited my grandfather in Jeremie Haiti, and always sat on the balcony watching the street merchants strut by. My little sister was 5 at that time, and picked up some foul yet funny merchant-like language and was severely reprimanded. The O O's from the elders, echoed miles away when they heard such vulgarity coming from a 5 year old. She supposedly heard a merchant insulting someone and mimicked everything that she heard. One day my grandfather pulled my sister aside and quietly whispered, "stop talking like a san clase dirty merchant". Mind you, my grandfather is a loud mouth who's not afraid of anybody and knew if one of the street merchants heard what he said, they would have tored. him. up. figuratively and literally. I'll admit, yes merchants can say some pretty ugly things, but I think it's their righteous weapon against the elite and wannabe elite class who shows no respect to the hard working women who make up 70% of Haiti's economy.

Hence my inspiration for doing this piece came from my childhood memories of Haitian street merchants: the mother's of
Ayiti Cherie. I called it "Byen Vag" (english translation: whatever, just chillin', I'm cool) because I can never forget their swagger. Although they don't wear the most fashionable clothings, or the latest Louis Vuitton, they walk down every block of Haiti's street like a glorified size zero on the runway, chanting with an unusual high pitch voice, de pou dola! de pou dola! or my utmost favorite ze bouyi bouyi bouyi ak fig mi!!!! attracting all the attention of them.

They have the magic to stop conversations and turn heads.
The Haitian Divas that comes in different shapes, sizes, and color.
They mirror the grace of elephants walking along a trail.
They walk with a certain confidence like nobody's biznis.
Phemonenal Women.
They are the lioness Queens of Haiti.

As I'm brainstorming different messages to convey in my artwork, I've decided to do more depictions of merchants but with an abstract pop art meets vintage style for year 2010 because I admire the strength and confidence of these women. They may not have a respectable status class, but they will always have my respect.


Ayiti Cherie: Haiti my Darling
san clase: without status or low class
de pou dola: Two for a dollar
ze bouyi: boiled eggs
fig mi: riped banana

Also O O is an emotional response that you'll hear every Haitian say. It's similar to American's OMG, WTF, etc...