Haitian Graffiti Artist At Mariposa Friday

  • Port-au-Prince graffiti artist Jerry Moïse Rosembert. Courtesy photo

  • Port-au-Prince graffiti artist Jerry Moïse Rosembert comes to Peterborough on Aug. 10. Courtesy

Thursday, August 09, 2018 9:37AM

Port-au-Prince graffiti artist Jerry Moïse Rosembert will be at the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough on Friday offering demonstrations of his work.

Before the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Port-au-Prince graffiti artist Jerry Moïse Rosembert worked in secret during the night time, using spray paint to leave visual messages on the city’s cement block walls that combined humor with clever and often heartbreaking social commentary. In a country where political retaliation was commonplace, it was a dangerous occupation. Jerry’s full identity was unknown to most residents who knew only the signature, “Jerry.”

After the earthquake, which killed over 100,000 people and left tens of thousands of others homeless, Jerry came out of the shadows. In the months that followed the disaster, when aid failed to reach many most in need, his work became an expression of the grief and pain the country was experiencing as well as a call for hope and courage. In murals around the city, his murals bore slogans like, “I love Haiti” and “Haiti will not perish.” As it drew crowds in the street, Jerry’s work attracted the unlikely admiration of police officers as well as the condemnation by a prominent politician. For many Haitians, it was a symbol of resilience and strength.

Jerry’s talent for visual storytelling earned him contracts with groups like UNICEF and Catholic Relief Services, who used his art in health education campaigns. But in his own work, he continued to critique foreign aid and Haiti’s post-quake political squabbles, depicting the corruption that weighed on the aid effort and the deadly cholera outbreak inadvertently caused by UN peacekeepers.

Now something of a folk hero, this unusual artist also occasionally travels internationally, and this Friday afternoon, Aug. 10 from 1 to 6:30 p.m., he will be at the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, offering two demonstrations of his work (at 1:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.), a small show of recent watercolors, and at 5:30 a talk about his experiences.

Jerry’s appearance at the Mariposa is the first in a series of programs the museum is offering linked to their current featured exhibit, The Big Book: Pages for Peace, which runs through Dec. 31 and celebrates the role of art work and writing in peacemaking. New art work created by Jerry will also help to kick off the Mariposa’s on-line auction.

Admission to the event (people may come and go throughout the afternoon) is free for members and $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children.

“We are thrilled to have Jerry with us for a truly unique art event,” said Mariposa Executive Director Karla Hostetler, who met Jerry when she lived in Haiti, prior to the earthquake and who said this week’s visit was “truly pop-up.” “He is a fascinating artist who has made a tremendous contribution to Haiti and whose vision and vibe has come directly out of living in one of the most complex places on earth.”

Jerry’s visit is being sponsored by the Jack Daniels Motor Inn in Peterborough. The Mariposa Museum, which works to foster peace and understanding across cultural borders, is located at 26 Main Street in Peterborough, NH. The museum is wheelchair accessible.