To make the Shady Haven Cut Metal Art wall hanging, artisans cut open 55-gallon drums, pound them flat, and then mark designs with chalk. Using a chisel, they cut through the metal to make designs. Among Haiti’s most original art forms is the cut metal work from Croix des Bouquets, a small village outside of Port-au-Prince. The tradition began in the early 1930s with Georges Liataud’s imaginative cemetery crosses crafted from recycled metal.
The nonprofit Comité Artisanal Haitien (CAH) was founded in 1973 to help rural craftspeople sell their wares in Port–au–Prince, to provide income and to help reduce the flow of migration from the countryside to the city. Though rural to urban migration continues, CAH helps artisans earn a living from their skills. The economic situation in Haiti is bleak, and the need for income generation is great. CAH craft sales often are the sole income source for artisans and their families.
CAH markets and exports crafts made by Haitian artisans, cooperatives and craft groups, who depend on CAH to find a fair price for their handicrafts. CAH provides marketing and promotional expertise, training in literacy and business skills for artisans, and financial assistance in case of health emergencies.