An Artist Who Blends Secular and Sacred (With Sequins)
The scene was a vibrant pastorale, rendered in thousands of shimmering sequins and beads that filled a nine-foot-wide canvas with a red tasseled border.
In the background were emerald fields, bulbous trees, a blue-and-white streaked sky. Up front were clusters of small figures in conversation on the ground, beside a bull grazing. And anchoring the center of this bustling tapestry were the many manifestations of Kouzen Zaka, the lwa, or Haitian Vodou spirit, of farming or as an embroidered inscription read at the top of the piece, the minister of Agriculture.
There is so much activity in Myrlande Constants tapestries that it can feel unfair to ask her to explain each detail. But recently, in New York for the opening of an exhibition of her newest works at Fort Gansevoort gallery in the Meatpacking district, this Haitian artist, who for three decades has led formal, technical and narrative innovation in the tradition of drapo, or Vodou banners, was gamely indulging queries.
You can see him as a farmer, with his scythe and his satchel, Constant said, indicating a representation of Kouzen (thats cousin in Kryol, or Haitian Creole, the nations primary spoken language). In one place, he was depicted with a dark complexion, white beard, broad-brimmed hat and a blue, red and white shirt, all made kinetic by cascading sequins and thrown into high relief by her lines of large pearl beads.
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