It’s well-known that great art can come from a personal upheaval. In the case of Hemler Mauricette, that upheaval was quite literal. In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked his native Haiti, where he had been painting professionally since the age of 16. The resulting trauma sent him scrambling to the Dominican Republic to regroup and heal through his work. But the tensions between the two countries meant that his safe haven would have to be found somewhere else.
He sought temporary refuge in Mexico, where he had been invited to participate in a tribute exhibit to the legendary Frida Kahlo. When it was over, he decided to make his home in the United States. He’s been in Orlando for just under 10 years now, using the City Beautiful as a home base from which to craft the surrealist/expressionist works he produces for exhibition across the globe. His pieces have been showcased in locales as far-flung as Chile, France, Spain and back home in Haiti; here in Orlando, he’s been represented everywhere from the Orlando International Airport to the Bronze Kingdom African gallery.
Central Florida has been a good fit for him: The weather reminds him of Haiti’s, and our cultural diversity has made it easy for him to adapt. “One thing that I absolutely love is that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it,” he says of life here. “The opportunities are endless.”
With those opportunities reaping big dividends, he says his professional focus has changed from becoming famous to expressing his identity and ideals through his art. The struggle for Black empowerment is a big theme in his work, with portraiture conveying the legacy of his ancestors and the trials that face people of color today. But instead of using art to seek revenge for past wrongs, he’s out to foster optimism and unity, showing how the human spirit can overcome all manner of adversity.
It’s a lesson he hopes will influence the child artists he also has the privilege of teaching – the Hemler Mauricettes of tomorrow. “By teaching youth how to positively express themselves as individuals, I believe they will better understand there are no limits to what they can accomplish in our infinite universe,” he says. Now that’s the kind of earthquake we can never get enough of.