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Kreyolicious Interview: Turgo Bastien, Painter and Visual Artist

Turgo Bastien’s art figures prominently on a mural in Little Haiti. Bastien was born in Haiti, and grew up in Miami, and has an art studio in Palm Beach. Mr. Bastien founded Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC), a non-profit that helps connects youths in Jacmel to art. Whether he’s painting murals, privately commissioned paintings, or creating art for a special exhibition, the visual artist says his message always remains the same: peace, love and harmony.
Turgo Bastien
Kreyolicious: Do you pound your brain and squeeze the inspiration out, or do you wait until you’re inspired by an event…a person…or a thought…when it comes to creating your paintings?

It’s both. Sometimes it comes to me randomly, while other times I have to really sit down and think. I usually get inspiration from things that happen around the world that affects us as human beings. Whether that be poverty, war, politics, or everything in between. My home country Haiti is also always a major source of inspiration.
Turgo Bastien
Kreyolicious: Do you visit Haiti regularly? How do you stay connected to Haiti?

I used to visit regularly, but it has been a little over five years since I’ve been there. That is because of the last times I visited the earthquake happened, and it has left me somewhat traumatized. I obviously survived, but the event affected me very much. I want to one day visit regularly again, but right now the disaster is still fresh in my mind. As an artist, I want to put all these feelings into a series of paintings to share my experience with people. But until I do that, I don’t think I can bring myself to return.

I stay connected by keeping in contact with my family back in Haiti, and I am consistently listening to the news. So even though I’m not there, I know exactly what is going on. I have to stay connected, because like I said it is a major source of inspiration.
Turgo Bastien
Kreyolicious: You were bred in Miami. Do you think that has had a bearing of sorts on your artistry?

I wasn’t born in Miami, but when I came to America it became my second home. It affected my art because coming to the city was a serious culture shock. Compared to Haiti it is completely different. I try to balance the two cultures and influences in my art. As of now I don’t only see myself as Haitian, but also as an American. A Haitian- American.
Kreyolicious: What would you say has been your moment of glory in your career?

I have a lot of moments of glory. I mean right now doing this interview is a glory moment. Honestly, I try to make everything a glory moment for me. Because as people we sometimes focus on the negative, so everyday I try to find that moment in everything I do.
Kreyolicious: What would you say to someone entering college this semester who has the talent to paint, but who’s reluctant to take it on as a career because of uncertainties about the economy…and just plain fear that things may not work out.  

That’s an issue about art, because it is not an easy career to pursue. Honestly, out of the hundreds of other Haitian artist I know who came to America to make a career in art, only two of them are still painting. And I am one of them. It is hard, but I continue because for me I want to share my art with the world, and not regret it in the future. So any young artist I say follow your dream—if this is what you really want to do. Because you don’t want to look back and regret not doing what you truly wanted to do.

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