As Vodou flags traveled out of temples and into the hands of foreign buyers, curiosity about their purpose grew. Some artists imbue their flags with quasi-Christian imagery such as angels, hearts, and saints, while other flag makers are actual houngans (or Vodou priests) who select visual representations based on particular, ritual use.
Whether one attributes significant religious power to these extraordinary relics or appreciates them strictly for their colorful aesthetic, the broad range of pictorial elements makes them a welcome anomaly among modern folk art collections. While the number of artisans specializing in the art form has swelled in recent years, natural disasters and tropical storms have ravaged Haiti and taken the lives of some of the most gifted artists of the medium.
This Easter exhibition of museum pieces from Billy Shire’s personal collection hails back to the last, great, golden age of Haitian Vodou Flags: the 1980s and 90s.
While themes often reoccur, each flag is unique.
Also on exhibition will be a selection of handcrafted Oaxacan memorial sculptures from Concepcion Aguila.