Turning Personal Struggle into Artistic Expression

Spotlight Date: 
March 22, 2013
Kathia St. Hilaire visual artist

Visual Senior, Kathia St. Hilaire, started making artwork as a way to communicate her thoughts.  When she was young she suffered from a speech impediment and had difficulty expressing herself; she discovered through art she was able to illustrate with a simple drawing what she wasn’t able to say.

Kathia’s artwork is made primarily through a process of different printmaking techniques that requires weeks if not months to complete.  She is currently working on illustrations for a Simone Callender book and is excited about developing some new art pieces including an installation. 

When describing her inspiration for Striving, Kathia explained her artwork is a narrative about her culture.  Her parents were born in Haiti and as a child growing up in the United States she faced the injustice of false stereotypes about the Haitian culture and its use of Vodou.  As a result she was ashamed of who she was and it made her want to distance herself from her heritage.  However after talking to her parents about their life in Haiti and doing research on Haitian culture she learned to embrace who she was and the important place the Vodou religion has had in shaping Haiti’s rich culture. 

In her personal life she uses Haiti’s persistence as a culture as an example of how to deal with her own struggles and need to persevere over challenges.  She explained, “After the 2010 earthquake Haiti was able 

to get tent cities up and start recovering very quickly, if they are able to persist through hard times then I should be able to as well”.

When asked about what Dreyfoos has offered her she explained, “It has given me the opportunity to express myself honestly.  If I didn’t come to this school I wouldn’t understand how to be myself in making my artwork or in speaking to others.  Dreyfoos made me a leader.”  Through her education at Dreyfoos she learned the importance of academics, she said, “I realized that I really want to learn more, I want to go to college, I want to do something great and I want to excel.  I can do more then what people expected of me from my home school.”

Kathia is a Presidential Scholar in the Arts finalist through the Young Arts program and hopes to attend Syracuse University or Purchase College in the fall.  She then plans to give back to Haiti by opening a school in the impoverished Cité Soleil where the children can get both an art and academic education.