Florestal Evens and his painting "Haitian Symbol"

By Vania Andre

In celebration of Black History Month, the Little Haiti Cultural Complex (LHCC), along with Lobey Art and Travel and Future Roots Collective, launched Symbols of Freedom: The Power of Revolution, an exhibition that explores the “significance of the Veve symbols” in the success of the Haitian Revolution.

The exhibition, which runs from Feb. 1 to Mar. 12, features works from Haitian visual artist Florestal Evens.

Veve is a religious symbol typically used in Vodou and acts as the spirit, or loa’s, representation during rituals.

I grew up in an environment centered around Vodou, Evens said. The inspiration from my art is pulled from the “Vodou ceremony” and “African history and mythology.” For Evens, his central focus was putting on display the Veve symbol and related Voodoo paraphernalia, such as asson, a “sacred” rattle used in ceremonies and govi, containers which are used to hold in spirits.

Florestal Evens and his painting "Haitian Symbol"
Florestal Evens and his painting “Haitian Symbol”
Florestal Evens and his painting “Haitian Symbol”

Evens grew up in Delmas, Haiti, where he started drawing at the age of 14. He’s explored different artistic styles ranging from figurative to abstract expressionist, however the most important theme in his work has been Haitian Vodou symbols.

Vodou has its origins in West Africa, where Benin is widely regarded as its birthplace. However, historically, the religion has often been associated with Haiti. During the slave trade, the African slaves who were sent to Haiti brought Vodou with them, where they later incorporated aspects of Catholicism to hide the fact they were practicing Vodou from their slave masters.

I’d like attendees to leave with a sense of having travelled from Africa to America, Evens said, and that someone who has never visited a Haitian Vodou temple can have that experience of viewing this type of art.

Every February, the cultural center presents an exhibition that pays tribute to the contributions of people from the African Diaspora. Symbols of Freedom: The Power of Revolution is curated by Marie Vickles, LHCC’s curator in residence and organized by Romuald Blanchard of Lobey Art and Travel.

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