The Aftermath of the Haitian Earthquake Remembered in Photos

by Clay Goetz

Pleasanton, CA. (December 2, 2011) – In the late spring of 2010, Livermore photographer Casey MacKenzie Johnson packed her bags and left for Haiti to assist in the rebuilding that followed the destructive earthquake of earlier that year. Her plan was to arrive in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and spend two months providing relief services in one of the many tent cities housing the 1.5 million newly homeless Haitians. She expected to see the destruction that became familiar to so many Americans through the news – but nothing could have prepared her for what that looked like first hand.

Johnson was based at the Petionville Club tent city, the largest in Port-au-Prince, housing 50,000 people on an 18-hole golf course. In Port-au-Prince, 670 million cubic feet of rubble and debris were left as poorly constructed concrete buildings crumbled in the quake and aftershocks that followed. Tent cities such as the Petionville Club quickly popped up to serve as temporary structures. However, their temporary nature was crippling. They could not adequately support their populations with relief supplies, medical care, water, or proper latrines. Disease spread quickly in the packed locations and presented a major threat to the Haitians and relief workers living there.

In spite of these tragic circumstances, Johnson caught glimpses of something other than heartache: hope. She began to document those sightings through the lens of her camera. “There is a definite duality to the aftermath of the quake. Families were left homeless, many with dead spouses, fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters – and for some, all they have is gratitude that they are still alive,” Ms. Johnson describes of her experience. “My photography shows both sides: the destruction and the triumph that ensues when the only way to go is up.”

“Apre” is Haitian Creole for “after,” and the aftermath of the quake is what Johnson was most struck by. Studio Unfiltered in Pleasanton is hosting a gallery reception of the photos from her stay in Haiti on December 10th, from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at their location on the corner of Valley Avenue and Hopyard Road.

The public is invited to see through Johnson’s lens the heartbreak and resilience of the Haitian people for the opening of “Apre”. Photographs will be available for purchase, and all proceeds will benefit the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, founded by actor and humanitarian Sean Penn. The studio will also be open every Wednesday between December 14th and January 11th from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for walk-in showings.

As January 12th approaches, the second anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, Studio Unfiltered and Casey MacKenzie Johnson encourage everyone to take time during the season of charity and hope to remember the Haitian people and participate in their recovery. It is two years later, but Haiti has not been forgotten.

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Casey MacKenzie Johnson, Contributor/Committee Member, Studio Unfiltered

Email: Phone: (925) 518-9978

About Studio Unfiltered

Studio Unfiltered is a community art space located in Pleasanton, CA featuring visual art that raises the profile of local and global justice issues. Rotating galleries showcase artists’ works around central themes related to humanitarian crises that often go unnoticed. Most of the art displayed is available for purchase, and serves as a constant reminder of the intimacy found in the immensity of the problems of injustice. Studio Unfiltered is located at 5765 Valley Avenue, Suite 150, in Pleasanton, CA 94566 and is open every Wednesday from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

About J/P Haitian Relief Organization

J/P Haitian Relief Organization is dedicated to saving lives and bringing sustainable programs to the Haitian people quickly and effectively. Following the devastating earthquake of 2010 J/P HRO began working immediately on the ground to make an impact in Haiti. J/P HRO works with both government and non-governmental agencies to deliver immediate results where the need is greatest. Principle efforts include providing emergency medical and primary care services, delivering badly needed medical equipment and medicine, rubble removal facilitating community regeneration, management of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, distributing food and water purification systems, improving communication systems, and developing housing and education facilities. The goal of J/P HRO is to help lift the nation of Haiti out of poverty and give the Haitian people a better life.


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