|Photo provided by Michael Bartley
Haitian artist Dominique Domercant, right, paints and talks with an OSU student.
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Wesley Foundation at Oklahoma State University became a conduit for sharing between cultures.
Soon after the tragedy, OSU students came together to organize a formal dance ("Hearts for Haiti") to raise funds for relief efforts. Among those student leaders were Janina Graves of Frederick and Rock André of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
During the planning process, these two, both active at the Wesley Foundation, became friends. Christianity was one shared bond.
Graves, a United Methodist, also is coordinator of International Student Ministries at the Wesley. André, a Catholic, is a Fulbright Scholar at OSU.
Graves wasn't surprised when André approached her with the idea of hosting a visit by Dominique Domerçant of Haiti, an internationally-awarded visual artist.
Domerçant is part of the Haitian Ministry of Culture and Communications. He also is one of the many Haitians left homeless after the quake. However, he did not go to Stillwater to share stories of sorrow. On April 7, he shared the colors and presence of hope.
OSU students and community members attended "Sharing: A Haitian Art Exhibit & Discussion." They were able not only to view Domerçant’s work, but also to watch him paint live. A discussion on the role of culture in ministry followed the performance. Questions were fielded by the artist; André; and Jeremy Basset, director of Oklahoma Volunteers In Mission.
The Wesley Foundation campus ministry also arranged for Domerçant to visit public schools, civic groups, and OKC-Quayle United Methodist Church.
Bartley, executive director of the Wesley, has previously traveled to Haiti. "Dominique did more than art," Rev. Bartley said. "He did interpretation; he did culture; he did hope."
"His art therapy work with the children of Haiti after the earthquake was inspirational. He has a servant’s heart," said Jane Bond of Tahlequah, a member of the Oklahoma Conference School of Christian Mission Planning Team.
"Kudos to the OSU Wesley for deepening our American understanding of Haitian culture and art," said clergywoman Trina Bose North. "For them it was not enough to raise money for people after the earthquake; they wanted a connection with the people.
"Both Haitian speakers spoke of the beauty and hope of Haiti. I saw through their eyes that night. For me, that in itself is a beautiful and hopeful thing!"