Whether you’re a novice to the subject of Haitian art or a veteran collector well-versed in the diverse schools and styles of hundreds of artists in different media, books and catalogs about Haitian art are valuable resources. They provide access to paintings, sculptures, voodoo flags and other items that may never see the light of day otherwise, except for images published in books and catalogs. These images help the collector hone his or her taste in developing a sense of what you like and what you don’t. They're also a teaching tool, helping you to identify the particularities between the artists who work in the same semi-abstract Saint Soleil style, for instance. Catalogs are easier to come by and more available, if you know where to look. Having been involved as a curator or collector in many shows around the U.S. over the past 20 years, I am always excited about the publication of another catalog that memorializes what went on the walls and in glass cases during museum shows. It’s a record that lasts beyond these shows and something that people can add to their personal libraries about this arcane topic.
Books about Haitian art were for years dominated by the writings of the late Selden Rodman, the world’s leading authority on the subject. It behooves all the would-be writers in the universe who also love Haitian art to try and pick up the slack, because Haitian art is always changing and new artists are always appearing who need witnesses to testify on their behalf. No single place on earth has produced more compelling art in the last sixty years. And considering under what terrible conditions most artists live and work, their contributions are all the more remarkable.
If you’re interested in learning more about Haiti in general, buy the literature of Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat including "krik-krak" and "The Farming of Bones." (Both are in English, as are her other books.) No one has said more about the magnificence and tragedies associated with the island country than this thoughtful young woman.