Friday, November 11, 2011

Waterloo Arts Center

     I am glad we had the opportunity to learn about Haitian art in this class. I was able to go the Waterloo Arts Center and actually analyze the work displayed, instead of just walking past each piece. The first time I saw this collection, I was drawn to the collection, but for many different reasons. I enjoyed the bright colored paintings, elaborate metal work, and the hand sewn sequence Drapos. I took notice to these very characteristics the second time as well, but instead of just looking, I had a better understanding of the collection and could analyze aspects of each piece.

     The piece that I took initial liking to is Erzulie Freda by Antoine Oleyant. This drapo is just one example of a sequined Haitian Flag, that has a distinct diamond-shaped border. The flags are very symbolic and are used to honor the Iwa. They also depict Vodou spirits, and their symbols. Traditionally these honor the Iwa in two main ways including anthropomorphic portraits or geometric representations called veves. Veves represent a particular spirit and enable the spirit to enter the human world. The symbols incorporated include Erzulie Fredam, goddess if kive", Agoue, female and male of the sea, Legba, gatekeeper and lord of the crossroads, Azaka, the farmer, Bossou, the bull, Damballah, symbolized by the snake, and Ghedes, lords of the underworld. Before a Vodou ceremony, veves are drawn on the floor of a Vodou temple using materials such as corneal, flour, or coffee grounds. 

       Drapo Voudou as an art form has seen many changes in the last ten years. New techniques are being evolving such as new themes and much larger canvases. They are also becoming much more elaborate. The most recent development in the art of Drapo are artists that had worked at wedding-dress factories, that are not closed. They introduced new techniques of intricate beading and sequins to the art. This has allowed for even more finer detail. 

     I really enjoyed the metal work as well. I did not take notice to the metal sculptures the first time I went, but this time I examined and looked at the whole collection. For the scavenger hunt, I looked at Spirit Possession by Serge Jolimeau. Riding on the horse is a spirit that looked like a bird, which is seen in the negative space, arched over the horse. In a book I came across on googlebooks, Spirit possession, modernity, & power in Africa by Heike Behrend, the bird was identified as a Dodo. Dodo is a type of bird that was first discovered by Portuguese sailors. This bird is distinct, and was distinct before the camera, so it is unclear what they  really look like. To explain how the spirit possession is depicted , Behrend suggests that "horses of the spirits who mount them to take control of their corporeal shell during the act of possession" and that "the association of mediums with horses may prove antithetical to the art of riding an automobile- where the medium becomes the rider rather than the ridden." I am glad I came across this quote, because it helped me understand the metal piece that much more. I could analyze what was going on in this piece, but I did not really know the full story. 


    From the knowledge I have gained in Arts of Africa, I was able to analyze many pieces from the Haitian collection at the Waterloo Arts Center. 


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you were able to view the collection, and that you took the time to look up what you couldn't identify. Of course, the idea of possession is also verbalized in terms of "riding"--hence "cheval". How do you think the display of the works would affect/reinforce other viewers' perception of Haiti and Haitian art?

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