Emily Bauman is a painter and entrepreneur from Haiti. She spent her early years of life in a small town in Ontario, Canada. She has been painting since she was 10 years old and has always been very much influenced by the transition of Canadian life to Caribbean life even though art supplies were scarce in Haiti at time because of military dictatorship and US embargo. Currently, she adds feminine spirit to her inspiration for painting.
Where are you from and what brought you to Haïti?
My parents are OG wanderlust souls. They got hitched, immediately left farm town Canada for life in South Sudan in the 80’s and only returned to Canada when they were ousted by rebel armies in the middle of the night. Haiti was the next adventurous stop for my humanitarian worker mom and mechanic dad, and 3 kids under 5.
I was born in small town Ontario, Canada but I only really spent summers there until I was in university. Like a maple tree transplanted into the tropics, I guess you could say I’m the product of two very different cultures. I speak English, Creole, French and broken Spanish, so sorting through the complex white-Haitian-girl Canadian identity has been a big part of my visual art storytelling.
Is island life as paradisiac as we imagine?
Yes, but it feels like equal parts paradise and paradise lost. I live in Haiti’s capital, and then I drive 3 hours to join my mother on the coast once a month in her eco-luxury retreat called Chic Chateau. The weather is lovely summer 365 days a year, except for a few weeks of hellish heat where we live in our swimming pools like fish. Sure, the political drama gets old fast, but the cross-island road trips to the Dominican Republic like the one captured on this film give me LIFE.
When did you start painting?
Age 10. I was a small town Canadian girl trying to make sense of new Franco-African Caribbean culture and the adaptation was rough at times. So my mom bought me some paint, some canvas, and I started painting the magical symbols I saw on my gate. I moved on to painting the fuchsia bougainvillea flowers that tumbled over the wall. And it helped me to make sense of it all. Art supplies was scarce because of a military dictatorship and US embargo at the time (hello 90’s Haiti) so I started painting right away in oils, because that’s what we found. It used to stain all my scrunchies and school uniform skirts.
Where do you find most of your inspiration?
The sea. The feminine spirit. The colors and textures of raw life we are exposed to every day here.
Who’s the pretty girl you were shooting in the pool?
Isabelle! My co-conspirator. She’s a professional writer and creative friend who lives down the street. Whenever I have a random idea or opportunity I call her like “ Hey Isa, want to come over RIGHT NOW to paint old car tires? We’re countering the violent protests and burning tires with a positive message. Oh and it will be featured in a dope music video” She always says YES to my randomness and I adore her for it.
And who is the cat-chan?
Meet KHAN the kitten. I have a rotating cast of kittens in my home studio thanks to the alley cats who periodically move into my walled garden. I WOULD say I have an adoption agency going but really it’s them who’s adopted me. Finding the kittens homes is just a bonus.
Your idea of happiness?
Floating on a warm island current, belly full of avocado and laughter.
Your idea of misery?
Letting a day go by without painting, photographing, writing, creating or sparking someone’s else creative birthright.
If not yourself, who would you be?
A mermaid ruling an underwater kingdom.
My mother, Frida Khalo, Wallace Simpson (Duchess of Windsor) and street cats – such survivors.
What is your present state of mind?
Soweto- Michael Brun.
Right or left handed?
What is the best dish you can cook?
Do Vegan power balls count? I can eat them all day!
What is your middle name?
Dawn – it inspired my artist name “Amanacer” which was meant to be “Dawn” translated into Spanish. But I was 10, I spelled it wrong and didn’t find out until 20 years later. It stuck and thankfully too because it actually means “The soul that loves to be born”.
What do you do in your free time?
What inspires you?
The magic swirling around us all, at all times; island roadtrips to places unknown like the trip shown in this disposable film reel, seeing intricate cosmogram designs in Haitian vodou called Veve; purple of bougainvillea flowers that seem to glow with fires lit from within; the mercurial blues of the sea that are ever changing; Haitian’s resilience and their capacity for joy; travelling the world and realizing what connects us all, other people’s art processes on Instagram, oh and eating raspberry gelato on my balcony at sunset. ALL the feels.
What do you do for money?
I create, tell stories, and spark other people’s creativity. So, I create then sell 70-80 paintings and resin art pieces a year; tell stories as the head of communications for a United Nations Agency; and spark other people’s creativity through social media, live workshops and T-shirt line “Amanacer Apparel” celebrating creative blueprint in all of us!
What do you do for pleasure?
I go swimming in the ocean, skype with one of my far away besties for a good laugh, wake up at 5am to jump rope under the stars at dawn, and feel friggin alive, find the courage to bring new ideas to reality and slow down to celebrate it before jumping on to the new one.
Bedside table books?
Atlas of Beauty “women in the world in 500 portraits” to make me happy cry; Conscious Capitalism to make me a better leader; and 100 years of Solitude to make me remember the Magic that’s always swirling around us.
What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?
I have a moment with hibiscus flower tea (so red!) and a soft journal at my kitchen table.
Do you collect?
Hell yah. I collect textiles, silver jewelry, portraits of people I meet, and the biggest, fanciest whiskey glasses I can find.
Tea or coffee?
Tea, then coffee…then coconut water.
What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
That a giant lived under my bed, but he could be kept at bay as long as my teddy bear had enough pink elastic bands wrapped around his fuzzy wrists. Scrunchie superpowers?
What are your plans for this weekend?
Hosting pre-drinks by my pool, then going dancing down the street at my favorite rara-tech DJ Gardy and Akoustik Band; meeting up with potential atelier collaborator for brunch to develop a line of velvet journals with beaded cosomgrams on them; painting on my balcony; attending a Zen Ayiti conference with 200 wellness focused women here in Haiti; celebrating a friend’s 30 th birthday up in the mountains. Nothing major.