The Brooklyn award-winning artist Lyne Lucien was chosen to create the Feb. 8 Google Doodle that celebrated the late Haitian American model and disability rights advocate Mama Cāx.
Cāx, born Cacsmy Brutus, was a New York-born, Haiti-raised fashion model. She was widely celebrated as an advocate for people with disabilities.
On Feb. 8, 2019, Cāx famously made her New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway debut. “The model and advocate proudly strutted down catwalks on her prosthetic leg, often designed with colors and patterns,” said the Google Doodle blog post that accompanies Lucien’s drawing.
“I have the pleasure of having this be my second Google Doodle,” Lucien told the AmNews. “I had a very different approach this time. This time, it was Mama Cāx, who I personally knew. Not that I knew her in person, but that I knew of her. So, watching her journey and her growth, I was invested because I know people only have positive things to say about her because her impact was so vast and you could just feel how sincere she was and genuine.”
Cāx had survived childhood cancer, but after unsuccessful hip replacement surgery at age 16, she had to have her right leg amputated. The Google blog post pointed out that, “At first, Mama Cāx was depressed and struggled to accept herself with a prosthetic leg, as she wanted it to look realistic and match her skin tone.
“As time passed, Mama Cāx began accepting and loving her new body. She started wearing stylish prosthetic covers with pride[,] incorporating it as part of her personal style. She also began expressing her love for fashion and style with colorful outfits, hair dyes and bold makeup. During this time of embracing her disability, Cāx also leaned into her athleticism and learned to handcycle—she went on to complete the New York City Marathon!”
As Cāx learned to take pride in her body, she became an advocate in the disability community and started pushing for the fashion world to include more varied body types in their standards of beauty. Her NYFW catwalk appearance in 2019 was a breakout moment that lifted the voices of the disabled in the fashion world.
Cāx being such a powerful figure and also being Haitian gave Lucien more reason to bond with this Google Doodle project. “I found it as an opportunity to honor someone who really is a trailblazer of my generation.”
Lucien, who is also of Haitian descent and also now a New York City resident, said she contacted others in the Haitian creative community and found that she knew many of the same people Cāx knew. They, along with members of Cāx’s family, were able to give her insights into Cāx’s character and beliefs.
“I wanted to approach this by trying to capture her essence as described to me by other people who knew her—just hearing people talk about how far above and beyond she would go and how she would never let her disability get in the way of her doing or accomplishing any task,” Lucien explained. “I wanted to capture her vibrant spirit, so my strategy was to think about her heritage and think about what she represented in different spaces.”
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