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Smithsonian commissioned this painting by Haitian artist Frantz Zéphirin for the September 2010 issue cover. The work by Zéphirin is a response to Haiti's earthquake, with symbols of the nation's suffering and its struggle for recovery. Philanthropic birds, representing former President Clinton, President Obama and international aid agencies, deliver messages of hope to the Caribbean nation. Bags marked with dollar signs, Zéphirin says, "show that to build a new Haiti with more justice and more educational opportunities we will need a lot of money." At the top of the painting there is a single eye: "That's God, and you can see he is crying a little when he sees what's happening in my country."
The Smithsonian is leading a team of cultural organizations to help the Haitian government assess, recover and restore Haiti's cultural materials damaged by the devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake. A building in Port-au-Prince that once housed the United Nations Development Programme has been leased by the Smithsonian. The 7,500-square-foot, three-story building will serve as a temporary conservation site where objects retrieved from the rubble can be assessed, conserved and stored. It will also be the training center for Haitians who will take over the conservation effort in the future. Through this project, the Smithsonian is currently training 25 students in cultural conservation from August 23 to September 10.
Haiti's Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Haitian President's Commission for Reconstruction are leading the cultural recovery effort for Haiti.
Frantz Zéphirin was born on December 17, 1968, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. He is, by his reckoning, the 24th of his father's 48 children (born to 19 different women). Zéphirin was raised by his grandmother near her voodoo compound in Cap-Haitien before moving to Port-au-Prince at the age of 16.
As a child, Zéphirin started painting images of colonial houses in...