Hub Gallery to Show Haitian Voodoo Flags

October 16, 2008

Author: Daniela Caride

Source: The Bay State Banner

Mermaids and Catholic saints. Pyramids, hearts and ceremonial candles. Not exactly the dark, frightening, black-magic-worshipping imagery one might conjure up when thinking of Voodoo (spelled “Vodou” or “Voudou” in other parts of the world).

But these dazzling images — combining a variety of spiritual and ritualistic symbols from Haitian folk art, made of beads and sequins and sewn into cloth by local artists — adorn the Haitian Voodoo flags that will be on display at the opening of the new gallery Bead + Fiber this weekend.

Opening this Saturday, Oct. 18, and running through Nov. 7, “VOUDOU-Flags of Haiti” is the first exhibition for the Harrison Avenue space. Artist Andrea Garr decided to open Bead + Fiber to combine a fine art craft gallery with a retail store, her own studio and a place where people could learn different arts and crafts.

“I was interested in retail and in supporting other artists,” said Garr.

Haitian Voodoo flags are “extraordinarily beautiful,” said artist Nancy Josephson during her lecture about Voodoo flags at Bead + Fiber’s preview day last week. Josephson is the author of the book “Spirits In Sequins: Vodou Flags of Haiti,” and has almost 100 of the flags in her collection.

“VOUDOU-Flags of Haiti” features the work of Haitian folk artists like Yves Telemaque and Silva Joseph. Works like the beaded flags are helping folk art traditions in Haiti rise to the level of fine art, their artistic vibrancy gaining popular recognition even as they raise awareness of their nation’s extreme poverty.

The flags are also popularizing a religion that has had a negative reputation in America for centuries.

“The cool thing about Voodoo is that you can bring who you are to the whole picnic,” said Josephson, who lives and has her art studio in Wilmington, Del. “It’s not that you have to believe this [certain] way.”

The openness of the tradition, Josephson explained, is part of the reason she finds inspiration in the flags.