Art Exhibition—“La Lucha, Quisqueya and Haiti: One Island” 


DNAinfo writes about an exhibition opening next week, where Dominican and Haitian artists will come together “exploring the sometimes-turbulent history between the two groups sharing the same Caribbean island.” “La Lucha, Quisqueya and Haiti: One Island” opens on February 6, 2015, at the Rio Penthouse Gallery, and will run through February 27. It will feature works by 27 artists, including photographs, paintings, sculptures, clothing design, and live performances. There will also be an artists’ talk on February 21. The Rio Penthouse Gallery is located at 10 Fort Washington Avenue, New York, New York.  

Yelaine Rodriguez, a 24-year-old Dominican-American fashion designer, is curating the show in partnership with the Haitian Cultural Exchange after spending time studying art in the Dominican Republic.

Rodriguez came up with the idea for “La Lucha” — which translates to “the struggle” or “the fight” — after attending the renowned art school Altos De Chavon. The curator, who was born and raised in The Bronx, was surprised by what she learned about Dominican history from veteran artists at Altos.

“They really educated me,” Rodriguez said. “Like about how we celebrate our independence from Haiti, but not from our colonizers. It showed me how we try to separate ourselves so much.” She recognized the same division among the expatriate communities in New York City. “I started researching artists and I realized that I didn’t know many Haitian artist, even though there are strong communities in Harlem and Brooklyn,” Rodriguez explained. “I realized that even in New York, we were separate.”

When she returned to the city, Rodriguez contacted Brooklyn-based nonprofit arts group the Haitian Cultural Exchange with the idea of organizing a group of Dominican and Haitian artists who could explore their shared history.

“La Lucha” is the first project to grow out of that effort.

Sable Smith, a Haitian-American artist, is contributing photographs from a larger video project she created on the role of memory in Haitian history. “The relationship can be contentious,” Smith said of the Haitian-Dominican dynamic. “There is this tension, and sometimes that can seem like something that is almost inherited from one generation to the next.”

Smith’s piece, “Excerpts from the R&RDM Institute,” cuts up and remixes photographs and written recollections from two traumatic events in Haitian history: the 2010 earthquake and the Parsley Massacre. During the latter, tens of thousands of Haitians were killed under orders from Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. [. . .]

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