Thursday, November 10, 2011

Waterloo Center of The Arts

     When I went to the Waterloo Center of The Arts I wasn't sure what kind of Haitian art I would see I was a little surprised with certain things and excited to see others. Ever since I saw the Drapo they quickly became what I thought an interesting piece of African Art. Drapo are sequenced flags that have symbols or imagery on them that tell a story or have some kind of meaning. They have been employed in the service of Vodou  worship to announce religious affiliation and spiritual militancy in devotion to deities. The Drapo were influenced by the banners of the Fon Kings of Dahomey. They also borrowed from the ways that the European colonial masters used flags and banners. Many of the contemporary flags are made of satin, velvet, or rayon and are often adorned with beads or sequence. As embodiments of spirit they incorporate the colors and symbols of the deity. One particular Drapo that caught my eye was one that was similar to the one that was in our History of Arts in Africa book. This particular Drapo is organized around a graphic emblem called a veve, a ritual drawing created on the ground to evoke the lwa. The central point of the crossing lines indicates the crossroads where the spiritual and physical worlds intersect, and where the spirit arrives when invoked through ritual. The snakes depicted on this Drapo refer to Danbala, a deity associated with water, coolness, and wisdom. The heart refers to Ezili Freda, a female deity associated with with love and affairs of the heart. The circular form refers to Simbi, a water deity associated with healing. Campaigns to suppress the practice of vodou led to maintain it behind Catholicism. Relating the imagery on the Drapo to Catholic saints to make it seem better than it really was.

     Other things I saw where many Mama Wata sculptures, paintings, and banners. Mama Wata is a water spirit and is often portrayed as a mermaid. She represents a "free" unencumbered spirit of nature detached from any social bonds. She is more broadly identified with Europeans rather than any African ethnic group. Although her name Mama refers to mother she has no children or family of any kind. Substantial evidence suggests that the concept of Mama Wata has its origins in the very first encounters of Africans and Europeans in the 15th century. The first representations were probably derived from European sailors' lore about mermaids or from marine sculptures and ships' figureheads.

     All in all going to the Waterloo Center of The Arts was a great learning experience and to actually see some of the things we had talked about in class and everything just seemed to come alive for me I will definitely be going back in the future to explore different things.

                       Bethany <><

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you were able to view the collection, and that you looked to your book for clarification. However, make sure that when you use information from books or labels--especially when you use sentences so similar--that you cite you source specifically. Also, beware the implied judgment "Relating the imagery on the Drapo to Catholic saints to make it seem better than it really was"--Catholic saints were integrated into Vodou partially to veil the practices from those who didn't like or understand it, but Catholicism wasn't "better".