(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)February 2, 2004
(Mahwah) – A one person exhibition by Haitian artist Emmanuel Merisier will be on exhibit in the Selden Rodman Gallery of Popular Arts and the Berrie Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey beginning February 18 and continuing through April 21. An opening reception and talk by the artist and Haitian art expert Andre Juste will be held on February 18 at 4:30 p.m. in the Rodman Gallery.
Merisier’s work reflects his identification with Haiti’s gwo pèp, the downtrodden, illiterate, backcountry masses of his recollected homeland. Writes Andre Juste, He seldom strays from this focus as subject matter or theme for his art. He practically never paints a local scene or subject that relates to his new environment-though he has lived in the New York City region for almost forty years.”
The artist, who lives in East Orange, NJ, has been cast as a modernist. Juste contends Merisier is not a modernist because of his borrowings from Picasso and other famous modern Masters, or simply because he bases his art on the look and feel of what he considers to be primitive Haitian art. Part of what makes him a modernist says Juste or what makes the substance of his paintings art, is the more or less self-conscious aesthetic negotiations he engages in between ‘primitive’ and ‘sophisticated’ Haitian art as well as between the abiding project of Haitian national identify and European modernism.”
Merisier’s subject matter often consists of stock types–peasants or poor folks working or involved in Vodou rituals. Juste notes that many of the artist’s paintings take on aspects of a masquerade where figures seem to pose, act out and transform themselves.
In recognition of African Ancestry Month and the 200th anniversary of Haitian independence, Ramapo College is exhibiting the works of living artists represented in the Rodman Collection.
The Selden Rodman Gallery of Popular Arts opened on campus in 2001. The Ramapo College collection is one of the foremost in the world devoted to Haitian art. Its range also extends to self-taught” North American artists and outstanding Mexican and Brazilian painters.
For more than 60 years, Selden Rodman immersed himself in Haiti’s life and culture. His passion and that of his wife, Carole, was the doorway for many to discover the powerful visual expressions there, resulting in an explosion of interest in Haitian art in Haiti, the United States and around the world.
The initial donation of art from the Rodmans was made in 1983, with subsequent additions in later years. An agreement signed just prior to Selden Rodman’s death in 2002 stipulates that in addition to continuously showing works in the collection, Ramapo College can borrow works from institutions and private collectors to exhibit.
Gallery hours are Tuesday, 1 – 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday, 1 – 7 p.m. For more information, call 201.684.7147 or 7202.
Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state's premier public liberal arts college. Ranked among the top colleges in the region by College Choice and recognized by, among others, U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, Colleges of Distinction and, also designated by Victory Media as a "Military Friendly College," Ramapo College is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding.
Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor's degrees in the arts, business, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education.
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