There are not enough people in this world that appreciate the true beauty that Haiti brings to this world. Usually, people direct their attention to Haiti when the island nation is embroiled in civil strife or devastated by a natural disaster. Fortunately, there are some individuals, such as Moro Baruk, who contradict this conclusion. Moro Baruk was born in 1947, across the planet from Haiti, in the African nation of Egypt.
An artist by trade, as he grew up, Moro travelled the globe for years before falling in love with Haiti and setting down roots in this Creole community in 1979. Today, he is a permanent fixture of the community in Jacmel, a town which is considered the artistic and Cultural Centre of Haiti. This is a little window to the story of his journey to Haiti, his views on the country and its culture, and his vision for about life in .
Arriving in the Caribbean
Baruk was born in Egypt, but his artistic talent drove him to travel the world in search of his ultimate inspiration. The first stop on Baruk’s travels was the nation of Italy, where he studied fashion design and illustration. He credits his studies in Italy with providing him the foundation upon which all of his future artwork would be built.
During a brief Q&A with Kreol Magazine, Moro (as he is known in Haiti) described his studies in Italy in the following terms:
“In Italy my studies cantered on fashion design and illustration. So drawing people in motion has become almost second nature to me. In addition, I took specialty courses on how to render in painting the various skins, fabrics, stones and metals used in fashion illustration, hence all the colourful details in my work are an indirect result of my training in Italy.”
Following his time in Italy, Moro’s travels and fashion journey brought him to New York City. After a brief spell there, Moro and his wife Paule moved to Arizona for a few years where Moro studied and taught art on the Indian. In 1979 they landed on the Caribbean island of Haiti. Almost immediately, he felt the inspiration of the island’s physical features, natural environment, and the attraction of the warm and inviting creole culture surrounding him.
Settling in Haiti
It was difficult to identify precisely what it was about Haiti captured him so forcefully. He had fallen in love with Haiti, and which has grown stronger with each passing year. Moro, and his wife Paule, settled in the town of Jacmel along the southern coast of Haiti.
When asked about his affection of Haiti and his thoughts on working with people of its creole community, he had the following to say:
“The more I learned about the customs, the people and the culture, the more the devotion increased. I have to admit that learning creole at the very earliest stage of our stay in Haiti facilitated our integration. It is like working anywhere with any culture different from one’s own. You learn the culture and the customs and then you can work (on working with Haitians).”
Haiti’s bright, colourful landscapes and vibrant culture have provided all the inspiration that Moro needs as he develops his artistic activities and pieces. In Jacmel, regarded in Haiti as the centre of arts and culture, he has earned the respect and admiration of all his neighbours and colleagues.
Visions for the Future
For Moro the future is a hope that he can continue on the same path. He views his time and work in Haiti, and indeed his life as a whole, as a matter of service to mankind, as bringing happiness to those who see it, while spreading the creole culture of Haiti wider audience. In his own words: “My service to mankind is a direct consequence of my faith, the Baha’i Faith which is a strong pivot in both my wife and my life” His ardent wish is that people he can inspire people to become better servants to mankind.
If asked what is his greatest accomplishment, the answer is a surprise. It is not a work of art or his current business in Haiti, but his relationship with his wife. The couple have travelled the world together, settled in Jacmel together, and he believes that without his wife’s support he would be a mere shadow of what he is today.
Moro has some advice for those who might look to opening a business in Haiti. He told Kreol Magazine the following:
“If they already live in Haiti, they should study the capabilities of the area they chose for their business. If they come from outside of Haiti, they should first analyse the law, the customs and the history.”
Moro’s Workshop: as it is today
Moro operates an artistic workshop in Jacmel. He has engaged 25 Haitian artists that create bold wooden and papier mache pieces. Moro’s work in Jacmel is credited with turning the town into an artistic capital in the Caribbean. Now he is working tirelessly to assist the next generation of Haitian artists spread a distinctly creole and Haitian art form throughout the region. The adornment pieces created in his workshop are worn by everyday Haitians during creole festivals, and have become synonymous with art in Haiti.