“Necessity is the mother of invention.” -Plato
When resources are scarce, artisans make use of the materials that are available to them. In the case of Haitian artisans of Port-au-Prince, this was the 55-gallon oil drum.
Eventually adopting the name “bosmétal,” the technique of transforming recycled cans and oil drums into art was first used to make cross shaped grave markers. The technique later expanded to wall hangings which depicted religious themes or scenes from everyday life, and can now be found in art museums around the world.
Bosmétal became the signature art form of Haiti, and has been taught as a cultural tradition through generations, each new artist contributing their own distinctive style to the craft, sometimes even adding color.
One such artist was Michee Ramil Remy, from the village Croix des Bouquets, whose work is easily distinguished by its attention to detail. He was also fond of bird motifs, even incorporating them into his marine scenes. Sadly, Remy passed away at age 41 from a long battle with chronic illness, but his artwork lives on.
Remy is just one of many artisans who has worked with Ten Thousand Villages through the years to bring this Haitian tradition to the United States. Comité Artisanal Haitien, or Haitian Committee of Artisans, is the artisan group which helps market and export the work of small-scale artisans, cooperatives, and craft groups in or around Port-au-Prince.
Comité Artisanal Haitien offers business and literacy training, fair wages and advances on orders, as well as financial assistance for medical emergencies. Ten Thousand Villages has been working with this group since 1978.
Having one of these fine cut metal pieces in your home brings a wonderful texture and sensation to the room. We can see the innovation and creativity of the hands and minds behind each piece. We think of the necessity that gave rise to this art form and we are reminded that sometimes beauty comes from desperate situations.