Power in art from the heart

2018-04-03 06:00
Menard Derosena (30). PHOTO: Samantha lee

Menard Derosena (30). PHOTO: Samantha lee

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“We were all given a gift as an answer to a problem in the world. It is just a matter of us finding what that problem is.”

These are the words of a motor mechanic and artist who visited the Cape to spread a message of inspiration, motivation and hope to change the world through art.

Menard Derosena (30), who resides in New Jersey in the USA, first visited South Africa a few years ago and “fell in love with it”.

He came to South Africa in 2015 in celebration of Bet Hashem YHWH Ministries’ 15-year anniversary celebrations.

“I had the privilege to do a portrait for the mayor of Johannesburg and then a few months later I did a portrait for Winnie Mandela. That was very inspiring and where it all began,” he says.

In the time since, he has completed three impressive pencil sketches of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, former finance minister Trevor Manuel and anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak. Each sketch took him two weeks to complete.

The drawings were in honour of leaders in the community and an initiative he hopes to continue when he returns to SA shores in the near future.

“I work full time so I need to plan my visits according to the leave I have and other factors,” he explains.

He found his love and passion for drawing when he was seven years old.

“I don’t know what inspired me. It was random. One day I picked up a note pad and pencil and sketched stick figures. From there I developed a love for it. When you find something you love doing as a child, you will always love it. Every child in the world will find something they love doing as a child. It is up to whether or not the people around you and your parents support that passion and help it develop,” he says.

He learnt his art from comic books and drawing things around him and believes it is a gift he was born with.

“I am very grateful for my gift; however, the older I become the more I realise how I must use it. Before, I would draw for myself or to be the best and show the next person that I was better. When I came to a certain age of understanding, I realised it is not just about being the best, it is about finding a cause and becoming the answer,” he says.

He had a great support structure in that his mother always encouraged him to draw, he says.

“I always had my mom encouraging me to do it. Environment plays a huge role in the success of art. You need to have a good environment to help influence you,” he says.

Born in Haiti, he was raised by a single mother after his father died when he was six.

His mother then moved him and his siblings to the United States when he was 15.

This was a move that cost him several years of development in art, he says.

“Adapting to a different way of life strayed me from my passion because I had to learn to speak English. Every child from another country feels that pressure to want to fit in. Being Haitian, my people were always made fun of and looked down on,” he says.

He developed a new passion for music but struggled to find balance.

When he eventually started drawing again, he had to start all over again.

“I told myself I was never going to let that happen again [where I let other things keep me from my art]. No matter how hard I tried to do anything else, the one thing that was fulfilling to me was painting and drawing. I can get away from the world, having the ability to express myself in a way that I have never been able to with anything else,” he says.

Although still working full time, he now finds the time to devote to his art. His hope is to use art to honour people and bring about a change in the world.

“I believe that everyone is born with a gift. Whether you are a singer, dancer or an artist. I believe that makes you a leader, but defining leadership and finding yourself in your craft is what makes a leader and also basically becoming who you need to become in that field. We live in a world of leaders, but do some of them know they are leaders? Most people see the image of leaders as a president or someone in office, while these are just people who are good at different things,” he says.

“Having a gift that you are good at makes you a leader.”

Art is a means of giving people perspective through teaching with your views, says Derosena.

“If you have purpose, you need to expose it. To do something and see people’s reaction. That is when I started to see power in it. To express yourself in a way that will not only amaze other people but also teach them,” he says.

“I don’t want to be an average artist that just has shows. I want to be an artist that can change the world through my art, teach the world through my art and honour through my art. It is not about money. It is about honouring people. Money will come when you do what you love,” he says.

He thanks Bishop Timothy Parnell, who made it possible for him to come to South Africa and start this journey a few years ago. “It started with him and without him I would not be in South Africa and where I am today,” Derosena says.

“We were all given a gift as an answer to a problem in the world. It is just a matter of us finding what that problem is.”

These are the words of a motor mechanic and artist who visited the Cape to spread a message of inspiration, motivation and hope to change the world through art.

Menard Derosena (30), who resides in New Jersey in the USA, first visited South Africa a few years ago and “fell in love with it”.

He came to South Africa in 2015 in celebration of Bet Hashem YHWH Ministries’ 15-year anniversary celebrations.

“I had the privilege to do a portrait for the mayor of Johannesburg and then a few months later I did a portrait for Winnie Mandela. That was very inspiring and where it all began,” he says.

In the time since, he has completed three impressive pencil sketches of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, former finance minister Trevor Manuel and anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak. Each sketch took him two weeks to complete.

The drawings were in honour of leaders in the community and an initiative he hopes to continue when he returns to SA shores in the near future.

“I work full time so I need to plan my visits according to the leave I have and other factors,” he explains.

He found his love and passion for drawing when he was seven years old.

“I don’t know what inspired me. It was random. One day I picked up a note pad and pencil and sketched stick figures. From there I developed a love for it. When you find something you love doing as a child, you will always love it. Every child in the world will find something they love doing as a child. It is up to whether or not the people around you and your parents support that passion and help it develop,” he says.

He learnt his art from comic books and drawing things around him and believes it is a gift he was born with.

“I am very grateful for my gift; however, the older I become the more I realise how I must use it. Before, I would draw for myself or to be the best and show the next person that I was better. When I came to a certain age of understanding, I realised it is not just about being the best, it is about finding a cause and becoming the answer,” he says.

He had a great support structure in that his mother always encouraged him to draw, he says.

“I always had my mom encouraging me to do it. Environment plays a huge role in the success of art. You need to have a good environment to help influence you,” he says.

Born in Haiti, he was raised by a single mother after his father died when he was six.

His mother then moved him and his siblings to the United States when he was 15.

This was a move that cost him several years of development in art, he says.

“Adapting to a different way of life strayed me from my passion because I had to learn to speak English. Every child from another country feels that pressure to want to fit in. Being Haitian, my people were always made fun of and looked down on,” he says.

He developed a new passion for music but struggled to find balance.

When he eventually started drawing again, he had to start all over again.

“I told myself I was never going to let that happen again [where I let other things keep me from my art]. No matter how hard I tried to do anything else, the one thing that was fulfilling to me was painting and drawing. I can get away from the world, having the ability to express myself in a way that I have never been able to with anything else,” he says.

Although still working full time, he now finds the time to devote to his art. His hope is to use art to honour people and bring about a change in the world.

“I believe that everyone is born with a gift. Whether you are a singer, dancer or an artist. I believe that makes you a leader, but defining leadership and finding yourself in your craft is what makes a leader and also basically becoming who you need to become in that field. We live in a world of leaders, but do some of them know they are leaders? Most people see the image of leaders as a president or someone in office, while these are just people who are good at different things,” he says.

“Having a gift that you are good at makes you a leader.”

Art is a means of giving people perspective through teaching with your views, says Derosena.

“If you have purpose, you need to expose it. To do something and see people’s reaction. That is when I started to see power in it. To express yourself in a way that will not only amaze other people but also teach them,” he says.

“I don’t want to be an average artist that just has shows. I want to be an artist that can change the world through my art, teach the world through my art and honour through my art. It is not about money. It is
about honouring people. Money will come when you do what you love,” he says.

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