Fabiola Jean-Louis Exhibition Opens at Harlem School of the Arts Today


The Harlem School of Arts Visual Arts Department Emerging & Teaching Artists Exhibition is pleased to present Rewriting History: paper gowns & photographs, a solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based Haitian artist Fabiola Jean-Louis, Broadway World reports. This collection of new and recent works will be her first solo show featuring an installment of photography and display of 15-19th century-inspired period paper gown sculptures.

An opening reception will be held tonight, February 6th, 2016 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The exhibition will be on view through March 1, 2016 at the Harlem School of the Arts Gallery at 645 Saint Nicholas Avenue and is free and open to the public.


Rewriting History is an inquiry into social change. How much has society really changed since the beginning of slavery? Do Black lives matter in the 21st century? The exhibition interrogates these questions and more through a haunting photographic essay and paper sculptures styled to mimic garments worn by female European nobility between the 15th – 19th centuries. As part of a developing master series of paper gown sculptures, these works speaks to the shocking treatment of Blacks throughout history and the trauma inflicted on their bodies as juxtaposed with the abstract idea of Black freedom. Simultaneously, the artist engages with a vision of the future – one of hope, strength, resilience, and beauty. The materials used for the paper gown sculptures are transformed in a way that allows the artist to represent layers of time and the events as they intrude upon the present. Through the materials, the artist suggests that although we cannot change the past, we can act to change the present, as we activate the memories, visions, and legacies of our ancestors.

ABOUT JEAN-LOUIS – Jean-Louis is a Haitian born, New York and Brooklyn raised, mixed media artist. As a little girl growing up in New York, Jean-Louis was surrounded by art and fascinating characters. Scenes such as the gothic, punk, raver, and squatter all played a significant role in her adolescent life. As a teenager, she studied fashion design and illustration at the High School of Fashion Industries, and attended the Art Institute of Pittsburg.

During her formal education Jean-Louis became disenchanted with the fashion industry, and left the field entirely. It would take 14 years before she discovered her talent in photography. While looking for inspiration, Jean-Louis remarked the absence of photographs that depicted Black mystical creatures, and Victorian women. It then became her goal to tell the stories of her ancestors, and express the influences of their contribution to American and European History, as well as preserve the beauty of her people through sculpture, fine art, and photography. Her work is informed by her Afro-Caribbean heritage, Black culture, and the dialogue of mysticism.

Convinced that a social revolution is here, and that the renaissance is reemerging, she is also heavily inspired by history, current events, science, and folklore. Through her work, Jean-Louis explores the events of the past, present, and the possibilities of the future that involve her community. Although the mother of three is self-taught and has only been working at her craft for two years, she is already making waves as an emerging fine artist who manifests diverse patterns of space-time, sci-fi, costume design, and surrealism through her art.

“The Harlem School of Arts is excited to showcase the visionary work of HSA teaching artist Jean-Louis, and it is my pleasure to team up with her to personally curate the show,” says HSA’s Director of Visuals Arts, Jonathan Patton. “Not only will her Rewriting History exhibition take place during Black History Month, but the body of work speaks volumes for what is socially occurring today. To say that this show will be a powerful experience is an understatement.”

For 50 years, Harlem School of the Arts stands apart among the premier arts institutions in New York City as the sole provider of quality arts education in four different disciplines: music, dance, theatre and visual arts. HSA enriches the lives of young people and their families in Harlem and the greater New York City area by providing: unrivaled on-site arts instruction; vital outreach partnerships with New York City schools; quality performances and exhibitions that attract diverse audiences to its dynamic cultural arts facility; and prominent guest artists who actively engage the school’s community in the creative process through workshops and master classes. Through these enriching activities, HSA creates opportunities for both children and adults to fully experience the benefits that the arts can bring to their lives. For more information on Harlem School of the Arts courses, programs, and events, visit HSAnyc.org.

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