Huffington Post Features BMA Exhibition

Flag5 copyThe Museum’s upcoming winter exhibition, Haitian Flags from the Cargo Collection is already generating buzz with a new article from the Huffington Post. The exhibition, which is presented by Joe Piper, Inc., comprises 21 beaded and sequined ‘drapo’ from the BMA’s permanent collection. The article, Basking In The Spellbinding Beauty Of Haitian Vodou Flags by Priscilla Frank, features commentary from an interview with the organizing curator, Dr. Emily Hanna. See below for an excerpt or click here to read the full article

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Walk into the Birmingham Museum of Art this winter and you’ll find yourself immersed in a strange and ecstatic experience, somewhere between an aesthetic encounter, a religious ritual and a history lesson.

Hanging from the museum’s blue walls are Haitian Vodou flags, hypnotic tapestries made from satin and sequins and sacred symbols. “They are dazzling, they just shimmer,” Dr. Emily Hanna, Senior Curator and Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas, explained to The Huffington Post. “Very much like stained glass in a church.”

The story of Vodou begins around 1492, with the Spanish colonization of Hispaniola, an island now split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Not long after, the French and English appeared too, killing off the native Taino population. Hundreds of thousands of West and Central Africans were shipped in as slaves to work on sugarcane, cotton and coffee plantations. Under these tense and oppressive circumstances, a new religion emerged, melding elements of African beliefs with Roman Catholicism.

The resulting belief system is…(read more)