Moscow Clayworks
Haiti Project

The Haitian Clayworks Project

What started as a project has become a loving and sustaining friendship. In September 2009, my wife and I purchased an 1880 historic carriage house in downtown Moscow, Pennsylvania with the intent to renovate the building as a community based art gallery for ceramic art. With both of us having human service backgrounds we wanted to support humanitarian efforts with the gallery and during our Inaugural Spring 2010 exhibit (Clayworks of NEPA) we hosted an empty bowl fundraiser with the proceeds going to OneBigBoost and their Haitian soup kitchen. 

The overwhelming success of the benefit led to the idea of hosting an exhibit of Haitian ceramics. My initial inquiries into Haitian ceramic artists still working in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake came up empty. Artist friends who had Haitian artist friends all reported that they had their studios destroyed or had left the island. Determined that ceramic arts must have prevailed, I piggy backed on a faculty lead trip by colleague David Porter at Keystone College where I teach some art therapy classes. David, a Haitian contact Carla Bluntschli indicated that she knew of a ceramic artist living on the southern coast near the town of Jacmel. So on a cold Januray 2011 morning I was off to Haiti in hopes to find several ceramic artists willing to participte in an exhibit.

The excursion lead me to the small town of Cey Jacmel and the studio of Lissa Jeannot, who is a renowned Haitian artist with international credentials. Lissa agreed with participating in a ceramic exhibit at MCW and subsequently introduced me to two of her ceramic artists friends; Ronald Mevs and Bergeni Neptune. They also agreed to participate. Details were discuss and we determined that I would return to Haiti in approximately 9 months to collect the clayworks for the exhibit.

What occurred next on the excursion was additionally remarkable. During a visit to a small tent village in the Port au Price area when Keystone College art education student Kati Kameroski would be doing an art education project with the village children, I noticed several ceramic masks decorating the plywood walls of the schoolroom. My inquiries lead to Jude Gilot, the ceramic artist living in the tent village and he welcomed the idea of participating in the exhibit.

Fast forward to late September 2010 and following a successful campaign to raise $2500 in sponsorship money to purchase the clayworks, my wife Susan and our two teenage boys Evan and Aaron returned to Haiti with the intend to hand carry the clayworks back to Moscow Clayworks. During our visit Lissa's husband Patrice Tellyrand provided a tour of a local ceramic water filter factory and we decided that during the opening reception that MCW would host a silent auction of the clayworks with the proceeds going directly back to the water filter factory.

The Haitian Clayworks Project exhibit opened at Moscow Clayworks in October 2011 and the silent auction raised $1250. Unfortunately, Lissa Jeannot was scheduled to attend the opening reception however some unforeseen difficulties prevented her attendance. The good news is that Lissa emailed to say that she would be able to visit MCW in April 2012 to be an artist in residence during the month.
Lissa Jeannot visit in April 2012 as MCW artist in residence has simply been a joy. She lead a day long ceramic jewelry workshop at MCW with a subsequent raku firing and then individual assistance for participants, presentated a slide presentation.

Most importantly for me and my family, having Lissa Jeannot as our artist in residence for the month of April has been a gift of friendship that exceeds the value of any claywork.

 Haitian Ceramic Water Filter Factory