Haitian art and culture expert LaGrace Benson, director of the Arts of Haiti Research Project and associate editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies, gave a talk at Indiana University on “Images of Haiti as a Colony and as a Free Black Nation.” Benson was invited to give a talk in conjunction with the Haitian Studies Association’s 21st Annual Conference, organized last week by IU.
Benson focused her talk on various pieces in the Art Museum’s permanent collection, located in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World on the first floor. The mystery Benson wanted to shed light on involved four Haitian paintings in the gallery, created in the 18th or 19th century but whose painter is unknown. Benson hoped to discover who could have produced the works through her own interpretation and by posing questions to the audience.
Although she did not have a conclusive answer, various ideas and possibilities were presented for the audience to consider.
“They are a mystery to us,” Benson said of the pieces. “There is still a lot we don’t know.”
While the first four paintings were traditional pieces, Benson also focused on contemporary pieces in the gallery. One was a photograph by Harold Bloom titled “Haitian Women, Croix des Missions” that was made during what Benson called the “Haitian Renaissance.”
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