In honor of our MasterMind
genius awards, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we
feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for
future profiles? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the
whos and whys.
65. Serge Toussaint
If you've spent any time in Little Haiti you know Serge Toussaint. You might not know him personally, but you've seen his work--his colorful murals adorn storefronts, dilapidated walls, the underbellies of bridges, and just about any open spot of plaster or cement he can find.
After 16 years of climbing his trusty ladder to paint in the Miami heat, Serge is an institution in Little Haiti. He's had a book on his work published, been the center of a national controversy over an Obama mural, and continues to paint at a prolific rate.
The Haitian born muralist overcame a troubled childhood in his homeland
to settle in Miami in 1994. Soon afterward he started painting. He got
his first real taste of notoriety in 2008 when he was forced to erase
part of a mural depicting Martin Luther King, Jr. and then Senator
Barack Obama which he painted on an I-95 underpass. The mural was paid
for by state funds but was taken to be an endorsement of the soon-to-be
President Obama. Even though he had to erase the likeness, Serge says
the message of hope the president brought with him still shines through
the mural. "You can still see the picture of Obama. Even after I painted
it off you can still see his resemblance," he says.
Part of what has made Serge so successful is a sensitivity to the
communities where he works. "I try to feel the vibe of a neighborhood
first. That's how I know what type of work I should paint." Serge
painted murals for events connected to this year's Art Basel
and hopes to one day open a school of art to help children develop
their talents and steer clear of trouble. "It wouldn't be for the money.
It would be to teach kids to paint and draw to keep them away from
violence and gangbanging like it did for me."
1. List five things that inspire you.
2. What was your last big project?
2011 Art Basel display at an art gallery at 150 NW 25th St.
3. What's your next big project?
Miami Heat team off 29th street and NW 3rd Ave.
4. Why do you do what you do?
Because it's my passion and I'm good at it. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up.
5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?
I love making Miami beautiful and hope to leave a legacy by opening an art school where I could train children to paint.
6. What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?
I tend to get timid in front of crowds at times.
The Creatives so far:
Tarell Alvin McCraney
Allen Charles Klein
Nektar de Stagni
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!