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Haitian Art Touches Down in Indianapolis

June 13, 2018
      Two wolves at Wolf Park look on.

When it comes to Indianapolis, the city is teeming with art and culture. From the architecture, to the restaurants, to the arts organizations, Indianapolis is a hub for expression and design.

Now imagine if the culture of Haiti came together with Indianapolis. At the Indy Convergence, there’s no need to envision this connection. It is fully realized.

Since the creation of the Indy Convergence in 2007, the idea of collaboration has spanned through many of its initiatives.

The organization began as a two-week residency program for artists to create work, teach workshops, and co-produce with other artists in a welcoming environment.   

Gerald Joanis dancing with kids. Haitian dancer Gerald Joanis hosts a workshop with kids during his visit to Indianapolis. Photo: Lee Rainboth

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For Caitlin Negron, Robert Negron, and Dana Wineberg, an arts based not-for-profit would bring their imagination into reality.

“The three of us were already coming from performing, but different backgrounds, so we saw it as an opportunity to break down some barriers between different groups and really explore collaborative work,” said Executive Director Caitlin Negron.

The Indy Convergence has expanded their connections and fostered international ties with Canada, London, and Haiti. Each of the communities benefits socially and educationally from the relationship they have made with the organization.

The last artist-in-residence, Jean-Paul Weaver, was expected to make an impact on Indianapolis while she was there.

Jean Paul Weaver Jean Paul Weaver. Photo:

“Residencies are for people who are working at a professional, high level. So I think that when you reach that level there is a certain degree of excellence that you expect and want more out of yourself,” Caitlin Negron said.

While in residency, Weaver worked on her budding company called the Seike-Dimache Project. The organization aims to help arts groups in Haiti attain access to essentials such as water, food, electricity and health care through sustainable initiatives.

Weaver also developed a multimedia dance piece and hosted a fundraiser for solar panels. The Indy Convergence plans to continue to collaborate with Jean Paul Weaver on fundraising projects in the future.

Jean Paul Weaver dancing. Jean Paul Weaver performs at "The Dreaming" fundraiser. Photo: Lee Rainboth

As a part of a cultural exchange that had been developing for a few years, five artists traveled to Indianapolis to collaborate with Weaver.

This exchange was important because we've taken artists several times to Haiti, but this was the first time we were able to have Haitian artists in Indianapolis,” Caitlin Negron said. “It felt very full circle and like the beginning of many more exchange trips.”

The five artists work with the Jacmel Arts Center in Jacmel, Haiti. They collaborated with Jean-Paul Weaver and local schools and attended events while in Indianapolis.

Haitian Artists show their work. (From Left) Haitian artists Meger Samedi, Lee Rainboth, and Bruno Rene show their work created while in Indianapolis. Photo: Caitlin Negron

During their trip, they opened The Indy Convergence Gallery Exhibit. The exhibition features over 80 works of art at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler Arts Center.

“People are not only producing their own work but they are stepping outside of their own comfort zone to work with artists that they have never worked with before,” Caitlin Negron said.

The work the artists created is a reflection of the international and cultural ties that the Indy Convergence has created over the past 11 years. Caitlin Negron has enjoyed seeing the artists grow through each process over the years.

“I just love seeing artists learn new things together,” said Caitlin Negron. “It's so great to see when you get a group of focused people in a room together and how much you can accomplish and learn about your own process.”

The Indy Convergence exhibit is open until June 29. For more information on the history of the relationship between Haiti and the Indy Convergence, visit their website.

If you are interested in learning more about unique arts workshops in Southern Indiana, check out Indiana Stone in the Limelight at Annual Symposium.