[Blackstudies-l] Art museum’s Haitian collection explores spirituality, history, daily life

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Sat Feb 18 07:21:16 EST 2017


one reason to go to Milwakee 😊


lisaparavisini posted: " A report by Sarah Hauer for the Milwakee Journal
Sentinel. Amid works of Haitian art, pillars creating a lakou stand in the
middle of the gallery in the Milwaukee Art Museum. A lakou, which
translates into English as a courtyard, serves as space for pe"
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> Art museum’s Haitian
collection explores spirituality, history, daily life
<http://repeatingislands.com/2017/02/17/art-museums-haitian-collection-explores-spirituality-history-daily-life/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 10.33.35 PM.png]

A report by Sarah Hauer for the *Milwakee Journal Sentinel*.
<http://www.jsonline.com/story/entertainment/arts/art-city/2017/02/17/art-museums-haitian-collection-explores-spirituality-history-daily-life/97908152/>

Amid works of Haitian art, pillars creating a lakou stand in the middle of
the gallery in the Milwaukee Art Museum. <https://mam.org/>

A *lakou,* which translates into English as a courtyard, serves as space
for people to gather for purposes as varied as sacred space to a place to
clean and sort rice. This lakou is surrounded by work in three styles of
Haitian art – Port-au-Prince, Capashen and Croix-des-Bouquets – on the
museum's mezzanine level.

Most of it was donated to the museum by collectors Richard and Erna Flagg.
<http://collection.mam.org/search.php?type=collection&search=91> The
couple left the Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime and Richard
Flagg became a successful tanner in Milwaukee. Kantara Souffrant, manager
of the museum's schools and teachers program, related the story of Richard
Flagg walking through the streets of New York City one day in 1973 and
seeing a work of art unlike anything he had seen before.

"He trusted that it was good because he had cultivated an eye as a
collector," Souffrant said.

He bought it and thus what would become one of the best Haitian art
collections in the world. That collection was gifted to MAM in 1991.

Sorted by style, the work addresses spiritual traditions, everyday life and
history of Haiti. Most of the artwork in the collection was created in the
1950s, '60s and '70s.

The northwestern section is filled with paintings in the Port-au-Prince
style, defined by Hector Hyppolite, a painter and Vodou priest whose
paintings often include references to spirits and Vodou. At the time
Hyppolite worked, the Catholic Church and the Haitian government were
discouraging Vodou and black nationalism was on the rise. His paintings
like "Saint Francis and the Christ Child" show figures like the patron
saint of animals as dark-skinned rather than white.

His use of Vodou spirits "becomes a way of him saying actually I am here I
refuse to deny this part of my cultural tradition," Souffrant said. Vodou,
Souffrant said, "sees every single thing in this world as having spirit and
being divine. From water, earth, trees to you and I."

Shown on the eastern wall is art in the visually flatter Capashen style,
which focuses on architecture history. These works are brought to life
through an audio station that allows visitors to hear what the scene in the
painting, if real, would sound like through spoken word and music.

The Capashen grouping here walks visitors through important moments in
Haiti's history. "The Crucifixion of Charlemagne Péralte for Freedom" by
Philomé Obin shows how Haitian history is intertwined with the United
States. From 1915 until 1934, U.S. Marines occupied the country. Péralte
was a leader in the Haitian nationalist opposition to occupation. He was
betrayed by one of his own men and shot dead by a U.S. Marine. Péralte was
tied to a door and a flag was draped over him. The Marines took a picture
of his body
<http://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/haiti-u-s-occupation-charlemagne-peralte>
and spread it around the country. Obin's painting, completed 50 years after
Péralte's death, is based on that image.

Grand sculptures made from oil drums from the Croix-des-Bouquets fill the
southern wall. The steel forming "Circular Compositions (Kompozisyon
Anwon)" (1972) by Sérésier Louisjuste shows human manifestations of the
spirits and animals. In a hands-on station, visitors can feel how the thick
steel from the oil drums is flattened and cut into the sculptures.

In February, visitors can also enjoy related Saturday afternoon
performances in the Haitian area. Ko-Thi Dance Company will perform at 1
p.m. Feb. 18. Jahmes Finlayson and Friends will play African-rooted music
in the Haitian area at 1 p.m. Feb. 25.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
February 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-tLl

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