An Art Basel Miami Beach Haitian artist’s glittering Vodou Flags steal the show at Miami’s Faena Festival
It is about how Myrlande Constant went from selling decorative embroideries at street markets in Haiti to exhibiting her beaded flags at museums round the US.
At the starting the Art Basel artist said “I awakened this morning and that i thanked God, and that i tell all the spirits ‘thank you’ for giving me the strength to form flags,” Myrlande Constant said, looking up at her colorful beaded Vodou flags suspended from the lobby ceiling of Miami’s Faena hotel. She was donning a jacket decorated with an equivalent circular felt pieces she had used for one among the works at the revealing of the second-annual Faena Festival, titled “The Last Supper ,” an immersive exhibition that has work by 23 artists, including Martha Rosler, Ana Mendieta, Camille Henrot, and Janine Antoni, additionally to Constant.
The art exhibition will start from the 51-year-old Haitian artist’s eight large-scale flags, which are embellished in glittering beads depicting alternative versions of the Haitian religion’s myths surrounding food, unity, and solidarity, are her largest so far .
Art Basel Miami Beach artist Faena Art curator Zoe Lukov first encountered Constant’s Vodou flags two years ago at the Miami gallery Central Fine and was struck by the artist’s interpretation of functional sacred objects with dense visual and narrative layers. Contacting the artist, who lives on top of a mountain overlooking Port-au-Prince, was a challenge, but Faena ultimately managed to commission Constant to form one flag, which later became two, and 6 other flags came from institutional loans. “While we spoke through a translator, I felt that we actually communicated organically—a really beautiful mutual trust developed soon given a shared understanding for the goals of the project,” Lukov said.
How the Miami artist told that the 10-by-7-foot flag, Rasanbleman soupe tout eskòt yo, took four months to finish and required assistance from the artist’s five children. Constant, too, took needle in her hand at an early age, watching her seamstress mother embroider and stitch beads onto wedding gowns. “I would skip school and make embroidery on dresses my mother left unfinished,” Constant told Artnet News about her early fascination with textiles.
I like the art exhibition in Miami Art Basel and the artist are showing the art stems from a deep belief in God—a Supreme Creator, and her narratives evolve around humans’ relationships to loas, who are representatives of God in physical world in Vodou, each with human-like characteristics and attributes. Evident in her flags on view at Faena is her balancing of the spiritual with a up to date Weltanschauung , during which figures in several colors, religions, and nationalities intersect and coexist over a scene of feast or death.