(August 20, 2015)
Meadows Museum of Art opens Sacred Symbols in Sequins: Vintage Haitian Vodou Flags September 1, 2015
For many Americans, the term "Vodou" brings up unfortunate Hollywood-inspired imagery involving hexes and curses, but visitors to the Meadows Museum's new exhibition, Sacred Symbols in Sequins, opening September 1, will gain new insights to the beauty and sanctity of Haitian Vodou after viewing exquisite early to mid-20th century Haitian Vodou flags (drapo Vodou).
Ogou Sen Jak Maje (St. Jacques Majeur), late 20th century, plastic, felt, beads, sequins, burlap, cotton, and fringe, 32 x 32 1/2 x 1/2 inches, private collection
The spiritual realm reflected in this exhibition is not the dark, frightening place of black magic and superstition so often stereotyped in American popular culture. Instead, the flags and bottles exemplify the force and elegance of Vodou gods (lwa). The flags are among the most sacred and expensive ritual implements in the temple (ounfò), and their presence is essential in key Vodou rites, including initiation, invocation of the lwa, and pilgrimage. As intricate works of art informed by ritual and theology, as well as by Haiti's political history, such flags offer an unparalleled opportunity for viewers to experience the aesthetics, symbolism, and social implications of Vodou.
Museum visitors will also have the opportunity to view three rarely exhibited flags from the Meadows's own extensive collection of Haitian art, donated in 1996 by Dr. and Mrs. Henry K. Miller of Baton Rouge. The Millers collected art directly from Haitian artists during more than forty years of service trips to Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles, Haiti, where Dr. Miller volunteered annually.
Additionally, the Meadows will host free educational programming to further illuminate Haiti's rich traditions and culture. On September 3 at 6 pm, Dr. Spencer Dew, from Centenary's Department of Religious Studies, will present "Vodou: Spirit and Politics." On October 2 at 6 pm, Dr. Andia Augustin-Billy, Assistant Professor of French, will present "Haiti: Myths and Truths," drawing upon her experience growing up and teaching there.
Sacred Symbols in Sequins illustrates the essence of Vodou as interpreted by practitioners, and the flags challenge us to rethink outsider conceptions of Haitian popular religion. The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at www.maaa.org and www.eusa.org.
About the Meadows Museum of Art
The Meadows Museum of Art is located on the campus of Centenary College of Louisiana at 2911 Centenary Boulevard in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-4 p.m. For more information or to schedule fieldtrips, call the Museum at 318.869.5040 or visit www.centenary.edu/meadows.