In the Croix des Bouquets neighborhood of Haiti, metal, fire, and muscle come together to make lithe mermaid goddesses, mythic lovers, and radiant sunbursts. Because these images often come from Haiti’s vodou tradition, which blends West African Yoruba religion and French Catholicism, Croix des Bouquet metalwork has earned an important place in Haiti’s cultural milieu. The town’s metalsmiths, who live and work not far from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, are not only artists, but entrepreneurs, cultural, and community leaders.
Though now integral to Haitian visual culture, Croix des Bouquet metalwork only came into focus in the 1940s, when American watercolorist DeWitt Peters and local metalsmith Georges Liautaud struck up a relationship. Peters founded Port-au-Prince’s Centre d’Art in 1944. His advocacy on behalf first of painters and subsequently of other craftspeople helped carve out a central place for the arts in Haiti, as well as markets at home and abroad. The amazing work Liautaud made inspired an explosion of creativity in other metal craftsmen in Croix des Bouquet.
Serge, like most of Croix des Bouquet’s metalsmiths, traces his artistic roots back to Liautaud. He has, however, created his own sinuous, curving style of depicting nature and spirit. As with all Croix des Bouquets artists, the surfaces of his metalwork come alive with a vocabulary of marks made with handmade burins, steel engraving tools.