LensWork Publication Skills Grant
Lakay Se Lakay (Home Sweet Home)
Lovelyne - Florida, United States
"Lakay Se Lakay" means "Home Sweet Home" in Haitian Creole.
This is a visual story about the gentrification of the neighborhood Little Haiti, in Miami, Florida.
Gentrification is threatening the rich culture, history, and legacy of Little Haiti at an alarming rate. Families and business are being displaced. While art and innovation are great things, the "home away from home" for many immigrants will no longer exist.
I am the child of immigrant parents who migrated from Haiti in search of a better life. Although they left Haiti over 25 years ago, they passed down their immense love & reverence for our culture to my brother and I. Miami, Florida is a melting pot and hub for many diverse and beautiful cultures. Growing up, Little Haiti was about 30 minutes away from my house, but my parents made sure my brother and I were immersed in our roots and culture.
Every weekend when I was a little girl, my dad would take me to Piman Bouk, a Haitian restaurant, to order patties & bread. We would then go to Libreri Mapou, a Haitian bookstore with a hidden museum upstairs filled with ancient artifacts and paintings. I would spend hours on the rocking chair just reading and looking at the stunning images of my motherland, while my father and the owner, Jan Mapou, told stories and cracked jokes. These books painted a much different narrative than mainstream media did and I enjoyed getting lost in the moment.
As I got older, with school and less free time, I started to go to Little Haiti less and less. However, I made sure to visit the library and go to the cultural center as often as I could. I eventually moved away for college and I remember my dad calling me and telling me that Little Haiti was becoming gentrified. That they were trying to push my aunt and other members of the community out of their homes. It crushed my heart because I didn't want to imagine a world where my future children would not be able to experience the amazing, family centered, tight nit neighborhood that was Little Haiti. The years I spent there every weekend, learning, playing, and interacting were crucial in forming me into the woman I am today.
I felt so helpless, but I went on a mission to start documenting as much of Little Haiti as I could before it becomes completely gentrified. This is an ongoing project that I plan on continuing until I can't anymore. I am creating an archive so that the true, raw, personal moments, and rich culture that encompass Little Haiti can always live on.
A large part of making sure Little Haiti lives on forever, is publishing and exhibiting this body of work. With this grant I want to acquire the knowledge, software, and training that I need to put this into print and get it into an exhibition. My goal when I have enough material is to produce this work in book format so that it is tangible and accessible to the masses. I want to explore my options in terms of display methods, and processes while maintaining the integrity of the work, for both a gallery setting and a book setting. Lay out and design will be a large part of this process and something that I need to become much more familiar with, through classes and workshops, in order to execute the vision I have for this very important and personal work.