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The Scarlet & Black

Haitian art exhibition opens at Faulconer

This Thursday, a new exhibition entitled “En Voyage: Hybridity and Vodou in Haitian Art” opened in the Faulconer Gallery. The exhibition features four pieces of art by Haitian American artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, who visited Grinnell as an international fellow last fall. The exhibition pieces were curated by a panel of nine students, led by Assistant Professor Fredo Rivera ’06, art and art history, as part of his Exhibition Seminar.

“[Exhibition Seminar] was probably one of the most incredible experiences that I had as an undergrad, so one of the things that I did when I came to Grinnell was I asked if I could possibly teach the Exhibition Seminar,” Rivera explained, who has long been interested in Haitian art.

According to Rivera, the Exhibition Seminar was an opportunity for students to gain experience in a number of different aspects of the curatorial process, and he wanted to give the student panel the opportunity to make the big decisions themselves. According to Charlotte Richardson-Deppe ’19, one of the student curators, in the end the students decided on a thesis inspired by a phrase Duval-Carrié himself told them: “Displacement creates new forms and aesthetics.” An intriguing theme in and of itself, the thesis also bears particular relevance to current events.

“Displacement, migration, refugees [and] new things coming out of migration or displacement are all huge themes in the political landscape right now,” Richardson-Deppe said.

“It seems especially timely that we have our president saying very ignorant and hateful things about Haiti,” agreed Ellen Taylor ’19, another student curator. “Hopefully, this exhibition will allow us to address some of the misconceptions that people have about Haitian people and their culture and their art. … Instead, we can showcase the rich artistic traditions and the complexities of their religion and give them a platform to be admired.”

The team collaborated with Faulconer Gallery to put on the exhibition, and also borrowed works and inspiration from the Waterloo Center for the Arts, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport and various museums that the team visited in Miami. Throughout the process, the class split itself into three specialized teams — catalogue, exhibition design and education. This helped the class to divide up work, while also continuing to communicate and collaborate throughout the process.

“There were many times when they prompted themselves to meet as a group and that they had an incredible level of dedication. … What I’m most impressed by is how they worked together so seamlessly,” Rivera said.

Now that the exhibition has been completed, the team has expressed shared satisfaction with the project.

“We have a really good team, we were able to work with some amazing collections and artists, and our professor is also a great leader,” Taylor said. “I’m really proud of the work we did, and I’m excited to share it with the community.”

For students interested in seeing more of the exhibition, the team will be facilitating short lectures by professors David Campbell, Kesho Scott and Doug Hess, as well as a documentary film screening and an Artists@Grinnell Gallery Talk. For more information, see the Grinnell Events and Programs page.

Charlotte Richardson-Deppe ’19 presents the new exhibition in Faulconer Gallery. Photo by Sarah Ruiz
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