Written By Jonel Juste
February 14, 2023 at 4:38 PM

The Museum of Contemporary Arts (Photo credit World Red Eye)

Haitian American artists discuss the aesthetic languages of Haiti in the diaspora on January 15th at the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) located at 770 NE 125 Street, in North Miami.

This discussion is part of the Conversations at MOCA program that is held once a month on Wednesdays, in-person at the North Miami museum (and sometimes virtually).

These conversations “provide a platform for community learning and open dialogue,” according to the museum director, Chana Sheldon.

“For almost a decade, she continues, Conversations at MOCA has been creating opportunities to connect the community with artists, curators, experts, visionaries, thinkers, and other diverse voices on ideas and themes surrounding current events, exhibitions, and activations at MOCA.”

This Wednesday, three Haitian American artists, Mark Fleuridor, Morel Doucet, and Michelle Lisa Polissaint, will present their perspectives on the topic “The Aesthetic Languages Of Haiti In Diaspora: Where Is Haiti?

This theme was informed, indicates Chana Sheldon, by the two current exhibitions on view at MOCA: “Didier Wiliam: Nou Kite Tout Sa Dèyè,” which presents the experience of being a Haitian immigrant, and how the history and culture continue to inform the artist’s life and work; and “Leah Gordon: KANAVAL,” which explores and reflects voices of the community in Jacmel, Haiti.

Dr Jerry Philogene, the moderator of the discussion (Photo Courtesy of Jerry Philogene)

To the museum director, this conversation is both timely and relevant, and provides an opportunity for visitors to return to the museum and engage with the current exhibits from another perspective.
Also, she adds, “the conversation is another example of the museum’s long-time role in shaping our community’s relationship with art through our robust education programs.”

It is crucial to have a discussion such as this, according to Jerry Philogene, the moderator, because artists of color are becoming more prominent in our communities and on the art market. “Thus, to expose the MOCA audience to various cultural and artistic histories is vital to our global creative world,” states the scholar specialized in 20th century African American and Afro Caribbean visual arts and cultural history.

According to Dr. Philogene, this conversation between Haitian American visual artists aims to explore the various artistic possibilities that exist in the visual arts created by people of Haitian descent. In addition, it will examine how Miami, as a place and space, influences and informs their works, how their cultural understanding of themselves as Haitians/Haitian Americans animate the artworks that they produce.
Panelists will discuss how Haiti has influenced their artistic aesthetics and how it has influenced their lives.

Mark Fleuridor, “very excited to speak and hear about the similar and different experiences each panelist has as Haitians living in the US.” (Photo courtesy of Destiny Belgrave)

One of the speakers, Mark Fleuridor, will speak about his own experiences of being born and raised in the Haitian community of Miami, Florida.

“I’m very excited, he says, to speak and hear about the similar and different experiences each panelist has as Haitians living in the United States.”

To the Haitian American artist, this conversation is important to anyone that relates to the immigrant experience.

“It is important for people like us, specifically Haitians, to see ourselves in Museums, and conversations like these. The exhibition “Didier Wiliam: Nou Kite Tout Sa Dèyè ” currently on view at MOCA is an amazing example,” indicates Fleuridor who explores his personal history and experiences through painting, quilting, collage and patternmaking. His recent solo exhibitions include Sunshine, at the Young Arts Gallery in Miami, Florida Curated by Derrick Adams and Lúisa Munera.

Second on the panel is Haitian-born Miami-based artist and arts educator Morel Doucet. Using illustrations, ceramics, and prints, he explores the impact of climate-gentrification, migration, and displacement on Black diasporic communities.

The third speaker is Michelle Lisa Polissaint, a Haitian American visual artist and arts organizer based in Miami, Florida. As an artist she explores the nature of human interaction through textiles and photographs. Her organizing practice is focused on overlapping art, community and activism.
Before the current exhibitions, MOCA has held previous art displays such as PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince, Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art, and After the Rain Comes Light: Portraits of Resilience that feature artwork by Haitian artists, and/or art depicting themes and people from the Haitian diaspora.

“We are inspired by the diversity of the cultures in our surrounding communities, declares museum director Chana Sheldon, especially here in North Miami and will continue showcasing artwork, creating space for engaging conversation and developing dynamic programs that reflect the community.”
Right before the discussion panel, the new North Miami mayor Alix Desulmé will present Didier William with a key to the City of North Miami, where the artist grew up. This event will be held in recognition of Didier William’s outstanding contribution to the world of the arts, informs MOCA museum.

WHAT: Conversations at MOCA: The Aesthetic Languages Of Haiti In Diaspora: Where Is Haiti?
WHEN: Wednesday, February 15th
WHERE: MOCA, 770 NE 125 Street, in North Miami, Florida
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