In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

My Africa Book and living in Portland

"My Africa Book" and living in Portland

A story by Titi de Baccarat from 2017

Titi de Baccarat, 2017

I am an artist with many facets—at once painter, sculptor, jeweler, clothing designer, and writer.

Dedicated to justice in a hostile political context, I was forced to flee my country, Gabon, with only the wealth of my artistic ability. I have lived in Portland since February 2015, and am working through my African identity and artistic expertise to contribute to the culture of my adopted city of Portland.

In Gabon, my work described the history of the Black Continent. I channeled my experiences of democracy, promoting a culture of peace and solidarity, and denouncing armed conflict and war which have claimed millions of lives in Africa.

My current works describe my experiences as an immigrant in the United States: my pain, fear, uncertainty, and hope for my future here. My African Book symbolizes an idea I've had about culture. It helps me not to forget my story. Stories of my village, my culture, my roots. I can remember my own story, and like a book, I open my life. We are often scared of what we don't understand; many immigrants are right now arriving in Maine. Maybe people are asking, 'Who are they? Where are they coming from?' I want to share my story with you and listen to yours—to celebrate our diversity, our differences, we are richer when we are different, when we are together and not separate.

"My African Book" is precious to me. Every human needs to be connected to their past, their present, and decide about their future. I hope we write the next chapter together, because we share the same humanity Immigration is not a color, it is pain and hope.

"My African Book" by Titi de Baccarat, 2016 Bark, wood and paper book pages
Titi de Baccarat talks about his inspiration while creating "My African Book", 2015
Titi de Baccarat's fashion design work
"Cross colors earrings" by Titi de Baccarat, 2016 Beads and mesh
Titi de Baccarat discusses his creative process, and how he found community in Portland.