Serge Jolimeau (b.1952 – present) / Untitled, July 18, 1985 / Metalwork / WCA Collection

Metalwork is a popular, meticulous, and endearing medium of Haitian art. Many metal works are produced from recycled oil drums, chiseled and hammered by hand. One important consideration is the texture of the surface metal, which can age with intrigue. The metal sculptures also range in scale and format: while some sculptures function as wall hangings, with a silhouette-like effect, others are sculptures in the round. While wall hangings have a clear front side, we recommend taking photographs of both the front and back sides of the metalwork wall hangings. Often, the back side reveals the techniques of artists and types of styles, while also providing information on the materiality of the work.

Metalwork is a generalized term. However, metalwork in Haiti has seen a transition based on the availability of materials and resources. Historically, objects were created with the metal from 55-gallon steel oil drums, a byproduct of the shipping industry. When the industry shifted so did the access to material. Therefore, artists maintained their techniques with the use of whatever materials they could find at the time; such as tin, aluminum, plastic, and even rubber tires.

The Waterloo Center for the Arts has an extensive collection of metalwork. For storage, the objects are suspended on pegboard dividers. To manage the digitization of such a large collection, a visual checklist of all the objects was created to accurately transfer objects from the vault to the work area. The work area was divided into two sections, photography and data verification. Each section worked simultaneously with the collection. Therefore, the objects were grouped by size and shape across the room. Each object was placed with a marker of the object’s image and inventory number. This process allowed for items not to be misplaced from one section to the other.

With metalwork, the use of a white box is best to control the reflective glare that can come across metal. In order to suspend the objects, a harness was incorporated into the design of the white box. This allowed more flexibility to turn the object so that photographs can be taken of the front and back of the object.