I first came across Belina Wright, via her IG page, and what drew me to her was her post from her VIDA collection. It featured a summer wrap modeled by a Caucasian woman. You may be wondering, so what is so special about that? Well, the summer wrap features African American women dressed in traditional wardrobe and it was just captivating to my attention to see someone of non-color modeling it.
So, I reached out for an interview because I wanted to know more about this Florida artist of Haitian descent. Like what inspires her to paint her designs, and how does she go about choosing models.
What is your full name?
My name is Belina Buisson-Wright.
When was the 1st time you visited Haiti and what made you want to go?
The first time I visited Haiti I was 12 years old. My dad, who is from Aux Cayes, wanted my mom, sister and I to visit his homeland. We had an amazing time and the memories from that trip stuck with me and have been the main inspiration for my art. My sister and I recently went back to Haiti as adults and it was such an enriching experience. We were able to go to the Citadel, walk through San Souci and hear about our rich history. The photographs from that trip inspired my recent paintings.
What made you want to become an artist?
Painting was a hobby that turned into a career. I saw a woman painting on PBS and felt I could paint as she did. I purchased her materials and started practicing. I learned her technique after a couple years but felt I had no style of my own. I prayed and asked God to reveal my style to me. Not Long after, I decided to paint an original. The first thing I thought of was an image, commonly seen in Haiti, of a woman wearing a scarf holding a baby or a woman with a scarf holding a large basket on her head. Those were the firsts paintings I created on my own. Those memories from my first trip to Haiti stuck with me all those years! The strong, Haitian woman carrying her load has been the signature piece in my work.
So do you design clothes or just get clothes and paint your artwork on them?
I design my clothes and work with SHOPVIDA.com, a company that partners with artists around the world to create original, inspiring apparel and accessories. What I like about the brand is they provide literacy and educational programs to their employees, who are usually women from developing nations with proceeds from each sale. While I have experimented with creating hand painted items, I wear them myself but haven’t sold any.
What made you choose a person of non- color to model your design?
While the design you saw wasn’t modeled by a person of color, I choose models of color and non-color. My art and apparel are for everyone. No matter your color.
Has your choice for model preference hindered or boosted your career?
I haven’t had any negative effects. I have had negative and positive comments about the models. My work shows that I am authentic to my heritage, it’s beautiful and can be enjoyed by all. My mission is to show Haiti in its most positive light and by sharing my work and apparel to the world and I’m sharing the beauty of Haiti with the world.
Why do you sell your clothes online instead of in a retail shop or open your own store?
Selling my clothes online is an introduction to my work and apparel to the market. I’m still researching but the goal is to have my apparel in retail stores.
I see on your IG page you have a story called “Come Paint With Me.” Are you a teacher at a school or freelance painter?
No, I don’t teach at a freelance paint shop. I have been asked that several times at exhibitions and speaking engagements. I have entertained the idea. Maybe I should!!
The “Come Paint with Me” story is just to give a window into my process of creating a piece from the beginning stages to the end.
What is your favorite thing about Haiti?
Wow! I have several! The first thing about Haiti I love is the food!!!! Everything is organic and delicious. Secondly, I love the beaches and beautiful mountain views. And lastly, I love people watching at the market. I love to see the hustle and bustle of people bartering and selling. I enjoy my time there.