2016 Florida Folk Heritage Awards
In Miami’s Little Haiti, centuries old traditions are maintained alongside modern manifestations of the city’s urban and transnational identity. The murals and hand-painted signs on buildings and businesses color the cultural landscape and reflect the neighborhood’s thriving tradition of street art. Serge Toussaint’s large scale paintings can be seen throughout Miami, but his work is most prominent in Little Haiti where his pieces depict the life and experiences of the locals.
Born in Carrefour, Haiti, Mr. Toussaint’s interest in art began at a young age. Inspired by the street artists he saw on his way home from school, he began painting and sketching and by the age of twelve, aspired to be an artist. He moved to New York in 1976 with his family where he continued to pursue art. While visiting family in Miami, he created his fist commercial sign in 1994 and remained in Florida to pursue a career in street art.
Today, Mr. Toussaint’s body of work includes functional sign art, portraits of prominent local or national figures, and Haitian history and landscapes. His work has been featured in Rachel Goldberg’s book, “Miami Muralist Serge Toussaint: Neighborhood Paintings by a Haitian Artist,” which supported relief efforts to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake. In 2014, Mr. Toussaint opened the Big Brother Art School in Miami, offering free art classes at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. Drawing on various street art traditions and influenced by the Haitian and Haitian American realities, Serge Toussaint strives to create public art that reflects the everyday life and experiences of the communities where it stands.
Photo courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum