Titi De Baccarat
Expressing the notion of unity
and the pain of immigration
Artist Titi De Baccarat left behind his son David and his aging parents to come to Maine in 2015 as an immigrant. He not only left behind his family, but his art supplies, studio and deep rooted connections, he left...his home.
Gabon Africa, although considered a sovereign state, has been plagued by corruption, violence and political turmoil and has been feeling the pains of a growing democracy for just over 50 years....and this eventually drove Titi De Baccarat to seek asylum in the United States. He is now finding the current political climate in the US to be another new challenge, but his tenacious positive message and the welcoming manner remain contagious beyond words, even in the face of strong adversity.
at the university, the embassy and the public garden. His view on how democracy was really working in his state drove him to present the alternative category of paintings that represented dictators, thieves of wealth and assassins, and he displayed them on the floor like a carpet. Eventually, his work was viewed as dangerous and overtly politically charged, and the young artist was kidnapped, beaten and threatened and left far from his home leaving him with the constant portent of death hanging over him.
His work openly displays his deep love for his home country of Gabon and his new found experience in Maine and the US....and most of his work just barely hints at the pungency of the experiences he has had both places, overall, he instead remains steadfast as an advocate for unity, diversity, love, passion, peace and connection.
Art is his universal language and he has something extremely relevant to say...
He works in several different mediums, including sculpture, paint, jewelry and clothing design, and always with an old, thoughtful, and very intellectual soul feeding the engine of his creative process.
Civic matters are a passion for this artist, and has literally been the tool that blazed his path to Portland Maine even though the true strength of his creation is in the love, the soul and in the story. The current dialogue revolving around immigration and racism is never far from his thought while he is creating what is obviously an outreach or a handshake to many others... an outstretched hand that some folks in Maine are not always accepting kindly.
"When I left Africa, I was convinced I had come to a safe haven, but very quickly my illusions have given way to the reality. I have experienced fear at different levels."
He is finding that although there is an underlying desire for diversity expressed publicly around him, that many Mainers are demonstrating racism under the name of secularism and dreaming of a republic with only one identity.
"It's like communities are built to give a false sense of security."
Lepage has also been in a two-term long battle to cut funding and aid to asylum seekers and immigrants, even going as far as accusing the city of Portland of abusing and illegally allocating funding for immigrants over native Mainers (there is no proof of this yet, and Titi has used little to none of the state resources like EBT or TANF).
More thoughtful Mainers are seeing the truth, the underlying story and the larger picture... that people like Titi De Barracat, are in fact, our most valuable resource going into a progressive and thoughtful global future. Here is the a solution, not a divide or a barrier as is being publicly presented to us by our leaders. These are all too similar to the issues that caused Titi to speak his mind and thus leading to him flee his home country.
A BRIDGE OVER A DIVIDE
“In Gabon, I made art as an expression of political discontent and to promote peace and unity between nations. Since moving to the US, I have had no money for materials, so I have had to collect objects to make my art. My goal is to share my African identity and connect the African and American cultures. I hope my art work opens dialogue about people who are different from us, and to help people to understand and accept each other.”
We can only hope that Maine, and our nation, begin to see artists like Titi as the valuable and intellectual creatures that they are, full of heart, exploration, invention and story....and the bridge that will divide our turmoil and floods.... a really valuable commodity that we need to revere and feed if we are to arrive appropriately to take our futures back from adversity.
written by: Erin Thomas
COMING UP IN APRIL:
Art, Culture, Unity and Soul