Developing Connections

Narratives of Haitian art and artistic production are often marked by the language of tourism, galleries and the art market. The incorporation of Haitian art into public-facing museum collections has allowed the creation of new narratives, where curators and scholars reframe the art object. Nonetheless, works of Haitian art are often analyzed in isolation. In his oft-cited book Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot unpacks the politics of silence in historical narratives. Trouillot’s writing serves as inspiration for HADC’s engagement with the storied and visual past, and we aim to build connections between archives, vertical files, and the artworks that comprise our image database.

This section explores connections between artworks with vertical files and archival holdings at the Waterloo Center for the Arts (WCA). Research is currently in development by the HADC team exploring three exhibitions organized at or with the WCA: Objects of Power: Devotional Objects from the Haitian Collection (2014-2015), Uncle Fun’s Over-Stuffed Suitcases of Spectacular Haitian Art (2017), and The Elusive Master: Emmanuel Merisier, from Haiti to Beyond (2018-2019). We plan to explore the curatorial notes for each exhibition, to consider how they provide new narratives of Haitian art and how our digital platform can provide a new life for the exhibition. Likewise, we are currently unpacking archival files from the Ute Stebich boxes at the WCA, which include correspondence and ephemera from the 1978 Haitian Art exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In “Developing Connections,” we provide features that interpret curatorial notes and vertical files to connect them to objects within our database while reconsidering and expanding the narrative of Haitian art. 

For example, in Ute Stebich’s correspondence, we discovered many documents, including correspondence, exhibition materials, slides and photo negatives of artworks, and personal notes. As a significant supporter of Haitian art and the organizer of the 1978 exhibition Haitian Art at the Brooklyn Museum, these files provide a snapshot of the way Haitian art was narrated to the broader public. At the same time, the files reveal the specific expertise of Stebich, who formed relationships with various stakeholders of Haitian art within Haiti, the U.S., and globally. Currently, we are working with a research assistant to digitize these files and conduct art historical research related to Stebich’s vertical files. 

(Note: Research is currently being conducted, and we plan to begin posting features in this tab beginning in early 2024.)