This exhibition, which includes a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue, highlights the diversity of Haitian visual art and the formal and thematic dialogue among Haitian and Haitian-American artists across generations and national boundaries. The exhibition features paintings, sculptures, and textile works that appear together for the first time and span over five decades. As a group, these pieces challenge reductive and stereotypical assumptions about Haitian art, spotlighting both the variety and the interconnection of works falling under that category.
While Transformative Visions is not curated according to a singular vision, certain common features link many of these pieces. The exhibition explores the multiple ways in which artists have drawn upon and reinterpreted religious iconography in their work. It points to how portraiture, with a long history in Haiti going back to the early nineteenth century, has been reinvented across different media. The exhibition also spotlights the transnationalism that shapes contemporary Haitian artistic production and the connections of these works to broader currents of black Atlantic visual culture.
Transformative practices ¬are central to the creation of many of the pieces, from Sacha Tebó’s flour-sack canvas for his Portrait of a Man, to Louisiane Saint Fleurant’s study of a mother and two children on a floral curtain, to the sinuous frame that Pascale Monnin converts into beaded angel wings in her L’Ange de la Résurrection, to the pieces of scrap metal that Serge Jolimeau (b. 1952, Croix-des-Bouquets) and Seresier Louisjuste (b. 1952, Haiti) metamorphize into, respectively, La Sirène and Danbala Wedo, to the repurposed pieces of tire, plastic, and metal that enclose and adorn André Eugène‘s (b.1959, Haiti) mother and child in Ayiti Pap Peri.
The exhibition highlights transformation as an artistic process, theme, and also potential of the featured works and of the greater corpus of Haitian visual art. In sum, Transformative Visions is mounted in the hope and expectation that these works will enable viewers to see Haitian art — and thus Haiti and the world — in new ways.
A highlight of the exhibition is the debut of Monnin‘s (b. 1974, Haiti) mobile L’Ange de la Résurrection acquired by the Lowe through funds from Beaux Arts in honor of retiring museum director, Brian Dursum. For Monnin, who created the sculpture (comprised of pottery with raku glaze, wire, pearls, and jewels) between 2006 and 2011, “it is the face of a child split by a diamond-studded fault line. The face teaches us the need to live with our scars, to make our stitches sparkling diamonds and to transform our wounds into weapons of mass construction”.