Curator’s Choice: Séisme (Earthquake)
On the 11-year anniversary of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Fowler’s Curatorial and Research Associate of Haitian Arts, Katherine Smith, and Assistant Professor of Art History and Africana Studies at Boston College, Kyrah Malika Daniels, discuss Séisme (Earthquake), a beaded flag created in 2010 by Haitian artist Evelyne Alcide. In Séisme, Alcide details the nightmarish post-earthquake landscape of Port-au-Prince. The artwork conflates city and cemetery, revealing the overwhelming presence of the dead, while Vodou spirits and angels hover above the carnage.
Katherine Smith, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and a Visiting Researcher in the UCLA International Institute. She has held fellowships at Brown University and New York University, and publishes regularly in academic journals and edited volumes. Smith has played a curatorial role in two exhibitions: Reframing Haiti: Art, History and Performativity at Brown University (2011) and In Extremis: Life and Death in 21st Century Haitian Art at the Fowler Museum (2012). She is the lead curator on the forthcoming retrospective on Haitian textile artist Myrlande Constant at the Fowler Museum. Smith is finishing a manuscript on death, art, and the religious imaginary in urban Haiti.
Kyrah Malika Daniels, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Art History, African & African Diaspora Studies, and Theology at Boston College. Her research interests include Africana religions, sacred arts, material culture, and ritual healing traditions. Daniels was awarded a Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art for 2019-20. She is currently completing her first book, Art of the Healing Gods, which examines sacred art objects used in healing ceremonies to treat spiritual illnesses in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following the Haitian earthquake of 2010, she worked in St. Raphael, Haiti, with Lakou Solèy Academic and Cultural Arts Center, a grassroots organization that develops arts-based pedagogy. Daniels currently serves as Co-Vice President for KOSANBA, the Scholarly Association for the Study of Haitian Vodou.
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Image credit: Evelyne Alcide (b. 1969, Port-au-Prince, Haiti); Séisme (Earthquake), 2010; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X2010.17.4; Museum Purchase, the Jerome L. Joss Endowment Fund