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Peace and .ART: Interview with Valeska Maurice

Updated: Jan 15

In a time when the pursuit of peace is more crucial than ever, our interview with Valeska Maurice, the force behind ASAO.ART and .ART Ambassador, reveals how art is emerging as a vital force for harmony and resilience in Ayiti.

  • Discover how ASAO is creating waves of change in urban art, sustainable development, and conflict prevention.

  • Learn about the resilience of Ayitian artists, their vibrant culture, and the transformative power of their art.

  • Find out how you can be a part of a movement that's not just about art, but also about fostering peace and prosperity.


INTRODUCTION:


Visibility is necessary for modern artistry. That is, the kind of visibility one gets from having an online platform. While social media hosts nothing short of millions of artists, there is an absence still. For .ART adopter Valeska Maurice Agbara Yâ Toya, founder of Ayiti Stellar Artist Offers (ASAO.ART), it’s Ayitian artists that are left behind. Devastated by local gang violence, artists lack the time and resources to explore their craft, leaving the world without sufficient Ayitian representation. It’s a problem Valeska aims to fix.  


With extensive and international education in peace and conflict resolution, Valeska’s discipline keeps the cross sections of politics, economy, and art at the forefront of her mind. We had the privilege of interviewing Valeska to learn more about her initiative, her passion, and the support she needs to help provide for her fellow citizens. Read our illuminating conversation below.  


Q.1 Tell our readers a bit about ASAO. What is its main purpose? 


ASAO is an innovative, hybrid, social enterprise dedicated to propelling urban art, sustainable development, and conflict prevention to the forefront. At its core, it is a mission to nurture lasting prosperity and cultivate peace through art, addressing socio-economic challenges for Ayitian artists. This mission extends beyond immediate alleviation, aspiring to propel artists towards a future of success analogous to that achieved by the iconic Ayitian artist prodigy Jean-Michel Basquiat. The narrative of Basquiat’s journey – his humble beginnings as a street artist culminating in his art commanding record prices and international acclaim – epitomizes the transformative power of artistic endeavor. Responding to this call, ASAO unveils a digital platform, to create prosperity and peace through art. 


Q.2 What inspired you to launch this project?    


After spending 9 years living abroad, mostly in Japan and in Senegal, I returned to my hometown in Ayiti – Haiti with a newfound appreciation for art and its impact on communities. However, I was disheartened to find a lack of artists and art vendors showcasing their works on our streets. Determined to understand the root cause, I began investigating and talking to local artists and vendors.  


They revealed how the challenging socio-political climate and security concerns had significantly impacted the once vibrant tourist sector, upon which they heavily relied for sustainable sales. This reality was confirmed by official data, showing a staggering 71% drop in the tourism sector with no signs of improvement. 


Ayitian artists face severe social, economic, and political challenges that they fight every day to overcome. They are particularly vulnerable and are oftentimes directly affected by conflicts between armed gangs seeking territorial control. This conflict has led to the unprecedented decline in Ayiti`s tourism, negatively impacting the sales of Ayitian art and exacerbating the vulnerability of Ayitian artists. State support and assistance from local companies and organizations are currently absent. 


With this knowledge and unwavering passion, ASAO was born—a visionary initiative dedicated to bridging the gap between Ayitian artists and art enthusiasts worldwide. It became clear to me that I held a win-win solution in my hands, benefiting both artists and art lovers in this vibrant....Click here to read the full interview: https://art.art/blog/peace-and-art-interview-with-valeska-maurice-agbara-ya-toya

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