Elizabeth Fazzare: How did you begin to build your own collection?
Gardy St. Fleur: It was natural to collect art because I grew up surrounded by it. My father had an art collection and even commissioned artists to create works in Haiti. My art collection started when I was fourteen years old. At that time, I had a summer job and saved money to acquire my first piece. Growing up in Brooklyn, many of my friends were artists.
EF: What pieces inspired you to continue?
GSF: I can’t name one particular piece. Artists have a profound impact on my resolve to collect art. Artists have a view of the world that can speak to what cannot be said by words. The art that I collect challenges me, educates me and invokes so many emotions and spirits. I am inspired when I visit an artist’s studio and witness their creation and creative process. I am in awe of the intellectual exercise that allows an artist to turn a vision or inspiration into art. Both the older and newer generation of artists have inspired me to continue collecting and to uplift artists in any way that I can.
EF: What designers/artists are inspiring you right now?
GSF: Artist Chibuike Uzoma: I am inspired by his confidence in art and his determination to build his career on his terms. He is among the up-and-coming artists that refuse to allow the art market to determine their career path for them. I love that!
Peter Mabeo of Mabeo Furniture: Despite his global recognition, he stays true to his native soil. He continues to create opportunities for others in his country.
Ouigi Theodore of The Brooklyn Circus: Ouigi is not just a designer, he is a mentor to the younger generation. There are many apprentices that learned under his craftsmanship and have gone on to do so many great things.
Artist William Villalongo: I admire how William combines the synergy of art history, world history and current events.
Artist Nandi Loaf: Nandi is inventive and creates her own format where she uses social media, cryptocurrency and technology as her medium.
EF: Does the marketplace help your discovery process? Why or why not?
GSF: The marketplace overlooks so many talented artists, especially artists of color and women, so it would be imprudent to use it as a guide for my discovery process. My discovery process involves so many layers; I read, travel, meet people and most importantly, I am open. That openness naturally directs me to discover amazing artists. The marketplace cannot determine creativity, and for me, art is personal and spiritual.
EF: What is the next piece on your radar?
GSF: A deity piece by Hector Hyppolite and works by Julie Creuzet, Samuel Hindolo, Naira Mushtaq, Omari Douglin, Peter Bradley, Rachel E. Williams and Rachel Jones.
EF: What is the one piece that got away?
GSF: Too many to name, but I think about them often.
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