A related event Jan. 29 features discussions with filmmaker Jonathan Demme, journalists and scholars on Haiti and storytelling.
By Stacey Ravel Abarbanel for the UCLA Newsroom
Showcasing a selection of works collected by the Fowler Museum at UCLA over the past five decades, "Fowler in Focus: Art and the Unbreakable Spirit of Haiti" juxtaposes pieces produced for the international art market with those used in Port-au-Prince Vodou temples and nationwide seasonal festivities.
The pieces illustrate how crucial aspects of the Haitian experience — including significant dates and galvanizing events — are made tangible through artistic and ritual practice.
Sparkling sequined banners and colorful Christmas lanterns, fanciful animal masks, paintings of historic moments, understated crucifixes, and spirit-activated bundles known as pakèts demonstrate the capacity of artistic creativity to powerfully encapsulate the tragedies and triumphs of this island nation.
The Fowler Museum has a longstanding engagement with the arts of Haiti and has featured works from the island in the exhibitions "Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou" (1995), "Saluting Vodou Spirits: Haitian Flags From the Fowler Collection" (2004) and "Divine Revolution: The Art of Edouard Duval-Carrié" (2004–05). The Fowler's collection of Vodou arts is among the finest public holdings of Haitian arts in the United States.
"Fowler in Focus: Art and the Unbreakable Spirit of Haiti" is curated by Patrick A. Polk, the Fowler Museum's curator of Latin American and Caribbean popular arts, and will be on view in the Fowler in Focus gallery, the central space within the long-term exhibition "Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives."
Fowler in Focus is dedicated to rotating installations of new acquisitions, sub-collections, and particular artistic genres in the Fowler's permanent holdings.
Saturday, Jan. 29, 1–6 p.m.
Haiti Stories/Istwa Ayiti
In a series of discussions moderated by author and journalist Amy Wilentz, scholars from several disciplines examine how Haiti is narrated and presented in the world and how storytelling, in both the broadest and narrowest senses, has affected the country generally, and particularly in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.
Speakers will include filmmaker Jonathan Demme, New York Times reporter Deborah Sontag, novelist and writer Madison Smartt Bell, UCLA professor of world arts and cultures Donald J. Cosentino and others. A reception closes the program.
The Fowler Museum at UCLA is one of the country's most respected institutions devoted to exploring the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas. The Fowler is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fowler Museum, part of UCLA Arts, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for a maximum of $10 in Lot 4.