The Faulconer Gallery will open an exhibition titled “En Voyage: Hybridity and Vodou in Haitian Art” on Thursday, Jan. 25. Curated by nine Grinnell students as part of an art history seminar, this exhibition includes prominent works by Haitian American artist Edouard Duval-Carrié.
The renowned artist was an international visiting fellow last fall at Grinnell College, where he collaborated with students to create an original piece of art. The mixed-media installation, which explores ideas and images of freedom and abolition, will be displayed in the College’s Humanities and Social Studies Complex, which is under construction and scheduled to open in 2020.
Fredo Rivera ’06, assistant professor of art history, taught the Exhibition Seminar during the fall semester. Under his guidance, the student curators built an exhibition around four of Duval-Carrié’s paintings.
They focused on themes of hybridity and displacement, and how Haitian art and Vodou encapsulate African, European, and indigenous traditions. Vodou, also known as Voodoo, is a dominant religion in Haiti.
“In the United States, Vodou is often the subject of misunderstanding and stigmatization,” says Ellen Taylor ’19, who helped curate the exhibition. “Through an exhibition of diverse works of art across time and medium, we aspire to showcase the depth and complexity of this religious tradition.”
Duval-Carrié will attend several events marking the opening of the exhibition on Jan. 25.
- At 11 a.m. Laurent Dubois, professor of romance studies and history at Duke University, will present the Scholars’ Convocation lecture titled “Democracy at the Roots: Culture and Sovereignty in Haiti.” The free, public lecture will start at 11 a.m. Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center, Room 101.
- At 4 p.m. Rivera and student curators will introduce their exhibition and discuss the themes and works on view at the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell. An opening reception will follow at 5 p.m.
“This exhibition provides a unique look at the politics of migration and creative ingenuity within Haitian art,” Rivera says. “I hope viewers will not only learn about the incredible breadth and brilliance of Haitian art, but connect it more broadly to themes of displacement and creation evident throughout the humanities.
“As a teacher,” he adds, “the most exciting part for me has been observing the teamwork and initiative of the nine curators. The opportunity to travel together and have discussions with museum professionals across the nation has been amazing and greatly informed this endeavor.”
Student curators enrolled in the seminar traveled to Miami galleries and museums and to relevant museums throughout Iowa to explore Haitian art, thanks to an Innovation Fund Grant and funding from Institute for Global Engagement. They selected four major works by Duval-Carrié from his personal collection, a private collection in Miami, and the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. These form the core of the show.
The students then chose a diversity of Haitian works from the Waterloo Center for the Arts, which has the largest public collection of Haitian art in the world; the Grinnell College Art Collection, and the personal collection of Karen Lowell and David Campbell, Henry R. Luce Professor of Nations and the Global Environment and chair of environmental studies. The students’ catalog and related programs will place these works into a broader context and explore the themes central to the exhibition seminar. The students have been responsible for every part of the project from exhibition layout, to selection of speakers, to catalog contents.
The following events in conjunction with the exhibition will take place in Faulconer Gallery:
- Feb. 2, 11 a.m.
- Professor Campbell will speak about works from his personal collection featured in “En Voyage: Hybridity and Vodou in Haitian Art.”
- Feb. 20, 11 a.m.
- Kesho Scott, associate professor American studies and sociology at Grinnell, will discuss the ways in which the Haitian Revolution affected the culture and population of modern Haiti.
- Feb. 21, 4 p.m.
- Screening: Of Men and Gods, a documentary about the daily life of several openly gay Haitian men who are also Vodou practitioners.
- Feb. 22, 11 a.m.
- Doug Hess, assistant professor of political science, will discuss selected works in the exhibition within the context of modern and historical Haitian society, as well as his experiences working with Haitians on human rights and pro-democracy projects in Haiti.
- Feb. 24, 1:30-3 p.m.
- Community Day offers opportunities for people of all ages to view two concurrent exhibitions: “En Voyage: Hybridity and Vodou in Haitian Art” and “Making Life Visible: Art, Biology and Visualization.” Hands-on activities will include making mermaids.
- March 14, 4 p.m.
- Artists@Grinnell featuring Erol Josué, a Haitian singer, dancer, and Vodou priest, who will give a performance lecture on Vodou traditions and religious music. Co-sponsored by the College’s music and religious studies departments.
“En Voyage: Hybridity and Vodou in Haitian Art” will continue at the Faulconer Gallery through March 18. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and admission is free.