“Writing About Haitian Art”

By Candice Russell

The interest in Haitian art in print continues to grow. Just from my experience, I see that it is widespread among editors at magazines. One example: Dory Dickson, editor of The Migrant Worker Journals in Hammonton, New Jersey wrote about my book “Masterpieces of Haitian Art” in her summer, 2014 edition. It is printed in English and Kreyol.

Dickson interviewed me for the story. ┬áConsidering the audience for her publication, she quoted me as saying, “I want Haitians to be proud of their heritage. I want non-Haitians to be surprised and to wonder at the extensiveness of Haitian art, created in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, by people with very limited resources. It’s mind-boggling.”

She was also a champion to me personally by lobbying libraries in her area to carry the book, considering the Haitian population. Dickson encouraged readers of her story to do the same in their cities. So, thank you, Dory Dickson on behalf of Haitians and Haitian art.

For the November, 2014 issue of Fort Lauderdale Magazine, I wrote a 1,000-word story on my experiences in Haitian art, along with a list of resources on where to buy it online. It is exciting to be included in this beautiful publication’s ethnic issue. I also wrote about the different unofficial schools within Haitian art, including the Cap-Haitien school spawned by Philome Obin and his relatives, and the Saint Soleil school of five core artists — Prospere Pierre Louis, Levoy Exil, Dieuseul Paul, Louisiane Saint Fleurant and Denis Smith.

It is hoped that more people will become interested in the subject, as a result of reading my story. Or that it will open their eyes to the beauty and wonder of Haitian art.

That’s not all. I just finished a 1,000-word story on Haitian Vodou for the online magazine SALIENT, based in Chicago, Illinois. I believe it will be available in October. My goal in writing that story was to bring respect to the subject of Haitian Vodou, which is a world-class religion on par with Christianity and Judaism, despite not being treated as such.

I denigrated the co-opting of the term Vodou by Hollywood filmmakers, U.S. politicians, and entrepreneurs in New Orleans, who put Vodou in the names given to bars and laundromats in their fair city. Then I explained what Vodou really is — a belief system with its roots in Africa co-mingled with Roman Catholicism foisted upon slaves from West Africa by their colonial captors from France and Spain. It’s not cannibalism or werewolves or other such ridiculous misconceptions promulgated in the popular consciousness.

For AXESS magazine, published by Celebrity Cruises, I wrote 1,000 words on Haitian art for an issue that will be in the staterooms of passengers beginning in December and going forward for a year until December, 2015. This was fun to do. If you’re cruising, look for my four-page story (two pages just with imagery from my book) about the adventure of collecting and how I backed into my experiences with Haitian art.

All of this is written in the hope that readers will follow my lead and make their own paths in the collecting world of Haitian paintings, sculptures, and Vodou flags. There is so much outstanding art that continues to be created in Haiti. The artists there and in the countries where they moved crave our support.