By Nyasha-Victoria Myrick, Marcel Alcala, and Alanna Cunningham
Faculty, administrators and about twenty students joined the Loving Kindness Meditation in the Ballroom February 2 to offer reflection and a presence to those suffering from the Haiti earthquake.
The program began with a meditation. The ballroom was dim, quiet, with pillows scattered. Everyone lay in the center of what would usually be the dance floor.
“May you be calm. May you be free from danger. May you be free from suffering. May you find peace.” These words were repeated throughout the hour-long meditation by Nancy Easton (SAIC Counseling Services).
Student Carson Hoerz, 19, said she came “because I wanted to do my part for the victims of Haiti … Because I am not able to do my part financially.”
She said the atmosphere felt “really calming and serene … It felt helpful.”
A documentary on the FOSAJ Art Center followed the meditation. Since 2008, the center had been under the guidance of Flores “Flo” McGarrell, an MFA alumnus, who lived in Haiti and worked to reorganize the center’s structure. McGarrell died in the earthquake. The film documented his exhibition.
Sue Frame, the assistant director at the Sharp Instructional Shops, was with McGarrell shortly before his death. Although she didn’t attend the program, her mother, Doris Frame, spoke at the event. Ms. Frame said her daughter and McGarrell had been best friends since college. She told the crowd her daughter had felt she was not there only to teach women woodworking, but that she was there was something bigger: to bring McGarrell home.
After the video, speakers shared their experiences and thoughts on the tragedy. SAIC President Wellington “Duke” Reiter reminded the crowd that “the best we can do right now may not be what we can do.”
He said he hoped “there will be many opportunities to help.”
Rosalynn Gingerich, SAIC director of instructional fabrication, spoke of her connection with Hands and Feet, which provided help to victims in Jacmel, is a city in southern Haiti with a population of around 40,000. It is known for its historic buildings. The city sustained significant damage from the hurricane. Hands and Feet operated a children’s orphanage there. Gingerich said the group supplied aide even though it might have broken laws by flying into the Jacmel airport to do so. Hands and Feet had offered to bring Sue Frame and McGarrell home.
“What’s moved me the most is the generosity of humanity,” Gingerich said, her voice shaking.
Prof. Calvin Forbes (Writing Program) spoke on the history of Haiti and mentioned a reading list he was compiling on the topic in relation to art.
The night ended with two musical numbers by faculty, the first by Ruth Margraff (Writing Program) and the second by Douglas Ewart (Liberal Arts) via Skype.
For more information on this event watch the video: Gathering & Meditation for HAITI
I am Flo McGarrell’s mother. The only aid that has reached Flo’s artists in Jacmel has been a few individual contributions. They still need art supplies of every kind. None are available in Haiti at the best of times.
Please contact Sue Frame at SAIC or myself at [email protected],about how best to donate materials and perpetuate Flo’s legacy.