Haitian field workers hand-cut ‘cana’ with machetes. Oxen teams pull wooden carts laden with cut sugarcane from fields that stretch into the horizon. A pastoral, Bruegel scene it is not, though the harvest methods are the same as those used in the 15th century. The Haitians live separate from Dominican society in Bateys where the living conditions are barely sustaining. All this exists only a mile or two from ocean resorts as beautiful as anyplace on the planet, with turquoise water and coconut palms growing to the water’s edge. Why are the harvest methods so primitive and the social conditions so impoverished?
The entire setting of coastal resorts, sugar-cane landscape and Haitian workers, have all burned images inside my head that have not left. My art has become a measure of awareness of the many facets that contribute to the conditions which allow us in the United States to have cheap, available sugar.
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