The colour of whispers, by Haitian artist Michèle Francillon

By Laura Gil

Whether it is political, social, or personal, artists tend to transmit a message through their work. This is what Michèle Francillon aimed to do through her Hispaniola art exhibition this January at the UN Headquarters in Vienna. Her idea was to present a mélange of stories from Haiti.

But it turned out to be more than that. Through her paint strokes, Michèle guided the visitor into a world of poverty cut in half by a ray of hope. Her art spoke about Haitian stories through a web of characters and symbols. In her exhibition, Michèle showed us her capacity to bring whispers into colours.

“I work with words because I like to think of my art as telling a story,” she says. “My work sends a message that comes from my country, from my people.”

The Haitian story is well-known to us: the 2010 earthquake, the catastrophic aggravation of an already-chronic misery, the international aid. At the time, there was little space to grasp the human, artistic side of things.

“I will remember those days always,” Michèle says. “I could not reach my family. And once I did, during the following months, I was not sure they were being honest with me. They were not showing me the reality of what was going on.”

Having lived in Haiti and Africa for most of her life and working from Vienna currently, Michèle has since 2010 been putting her thoughts and hopes into the canvas. Each stroke leads her into a journey to the past and into the segments of a reality that she is trying to weave together.

“I don’t live in Haiti, but I can be present through my art,” she says. Her work transports her and whoever has the chance to contemplate it into a world of chaos bathed with hope. “I try to send a message of gratitude to the people who turned to help us. All the attention was on us. I don’t want to show misery in my art; I prefer to show courage.”

Hispaniola is only one in a series of exhibitions organized by the artist. The next one, Itinerary, will take place on the 18th of May at “Commonroom”, Florianigasse 54, 1080, Vienna. Her biggest satisfaction is to bring people from different cultures together to experience her art from their own perspective.

“This is my money,” Michèle says. “Being exposed to all the different international perspectives is what makes us rich.”

Check this website for more updates on Michèle’s exhibitions and click here to read Michèle’s poetry.