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Centenary College Receives Gift of Haitian Art

The Market by P. Suny, Haitian, 1979, from the Dr. and Mrs. Henry K. Miller Collection of Haitian Art Meadows Museum of Art, Centenary College of Louisiana.

Contact: Judy Godfrey, 318-869-5169

SHREVEPORT, LA--Dr. and Mrs. Henry K. Miller of Baton Rouge have known 43 years of Haiti's grim struggle of life, a fight against poverty, disease, and oppression. But the art of Haiti defies this struggle as some of the most vivid and memorable art in the world, filled with color, excitement, and fantasy. Through the years the Millers have expressed their love for Haiti and its people, and appreciation for its art and its culture by amassing a large collection of Haitian art.

The Millers' memories of Haiti are captured in paintings and sculpture that now will be shared with a much wider audience. Dr. and Mrs. Miller have given a large portion of their Haitian art collection, over 80 pieces, to Centenary College where the art will be used for educational purposes, exhibition, and as a valuable teaching tool.

The Dr. and Mrs. Henry K. Miller Collection of Haitian Art will premiere at the Meadows Museum of Art on the Centenary College campus on Saturday, April 5, and stay on exhibit through June 8.

Henry K. Miller was born in Shreveport, attended Barrett Elementary and graduated from Byrd High School in 1939. Because of his ties to North Louisiana he became interested in donating the impressive collection to Centenary College. Dr. Miller, a gynecologist, has practiced medicine for 44 years in Baton Rouge.

For over 43 years Dr. Miller dedicated two or three weeks of medical service annually in Haiti, where hospitals are rare and health care is scarce. Dr. Miller became involved with the Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles, Haiti, through his association with Dr. William Larry Mellon, founder of the hospital. Mellon studied under Miller at Tulane University and in 1947 he asked Dr. Miller to serve on the board. Since 1954, Miller and his wife have returned to the island hospital every year. The hospital has always striven to emulate Dr. Schweitzer's philosophy of "Reverence for Life."

In their early years of travel, Dr. and Mrs. Miller were introduced to the vital art scene in Haiti and began purchasing a few paintings each trip. They developed friendships with many local artists, purchasing art only from the artists directly, not through galleries. Over the years their colllection has grown to include more than 100 paintings, sculpture, and textiles expressive of Haiti's dramatic and mysterious history and culture.

Dr. Miller says of their donation: "I feel close ties with Centenary College because I was born in Shreveport. Katie and I are very pleased that our Haitian art collection will be used for educational purposes. We hope that many people will enjoy and learn from the art. We give our special thanks to Aime Gangi for her encouragement and photographic expertise that helped make this donation possible."

Haitian art, described by some are critics and dealers as the richest art scene in the world, expresses a kind of elation fueled by rich imagination despite the harsh realities of life. By observing the works of Haiti's talented artists of the past 43 years, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the everyday lifestyle and friendliness of the people, and the exoticism of their religion.

The works in the collection donated to Centenary College are a visual record of Dr. and Mrs. Miller's work and travels in Haiti. The gift to Centenary College is a living legacy, a 43-year record of one man's dedication to helping others.

Museum Hours: Tuesday-Friday 12-4 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 1-4 p.m.

FREE Admission