On the morning of Wednesday, May 2, 2018, a gentleman by the name of Roosevelt Sanon came to the Embassy to renew his Haitian passport. As he sat in the Consular Section’s waiting room after a long drive from Pennsylvania in the company of his cousin Jean-Borgella Guerrier, Sanon began to examine the artwork displayed on the walls, and his eyes fixated on a particular piece: one of his own paintings.
Born in Jacmel to Bejamine Jean-Pierre Sanon and Clément Sanon in 1951, Roosevelt Sanon is a self-taught artist who began painting at the age of 17. During his early years as a painter, he received some guidance from Raphaël Surin, among a number of other veteran artists.
At the age of 23, Sanon participated in an art competition organized by the Musée d’Art Haïtien in collaboration with the Embassy of Germany in Haiti. As the grand prizewinner, Sanon was awarded with a trip to Germany, which allowed him to become acquainted with the work of various European artists. Thereafter, Sanon would continue to collaborate with the Musée d’Art Haïtien under the direction of Pierre Monosier, as well as with Le Centre d’Art led by Francine Murat.
Sanon expressed his gratitude for the Monnin family, particularly Michel Monnin, stating: “Although he’s not a painter, I can firmly say that Michel Monnin has been one of the greatest contributors to Haitian art over the past fifty years through Galerie Monnin’s efforts to support and promote the work of Haitian artists.” Sanon also shared his admiration for his fellow artists associated with Galerie Monnin, from those who preceded him such as Préfète Duffaut, to his contemporaries such as Emilcar Similien (Simil), the Blaise brothers (Serge, St-Louis, Fabolon, André), and those who have followed him, namely Pascale Monnin. Sanon also mentioned his appreciation for his two brothers, Lamar and Jeannet Sanon, who are also painters.
In addition to his piece A river runs through it exhibited in the Embassy’s Consular Section, there are two additional Sanon paintings on display at the Chancery, Mapou tree and The walking tree, positioned along the staircase leading to the building’s third floor.
Sanon’s presence at the Embassy coincided with the visit of a group of students and faculty from the Edmund Burke School, and he graciously took the time to talk to the group about his craft.
As he concluded his visit, Sanon profusely thanked the Embassy for the warm welcome he received, stating: “I have goose bumps right now. This unexpected experience was the best gift that I could have ever received. I feel like someone who was in an obscure labyrinth, and the Embassy showed me the way out with my displayed paintings. The work that you all are doing is truly priceless.”