Skip to News / Media site navigationSkip to main content

Unique Exhibition of Haitian Paintings from Jonathan Demme Collection Opens at Ramapo College of New Jersey On September 17, 2014

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)August 29, 2014

(MAHWAH, NJ) – A Sense of Place: Cap-Haitien Paintings from the Collection of Jonathan Demme opens in the Kresge Gallery at Ramapo College of New Jersey on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 and continues through November 21, 2014. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, September 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a curators’ talk at 6 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

Sénèque Obin, <em>Les produits d'Haiti</em>, oil on Masonite, 23 ¾ x 29 ½ inches, collection of Jonathan Demme

Sénèque Obin, Les produits d’Haiti, oil on Masonite,
23 ¾ x 29 ½ inches, collection of Jonathan Demme

The exhibition features more than 60 works from the collection of noted film director Jonathan Demme, one of the world’s leading collectors of Haitian art. The exhibition breaks new ground by exploring particular styles of art which developed in and around the city of Cap-Haitien in northern Haiti.

Ramapo College is home to the largest concentration of Haitian art collections in any academic institution in the United States with more than 500 works.  The late poet and critic Selden Rodman donated the core collection in the early 1980s.

A Sense of Place showcases art from “the Cap-Haitien School” and differs from stereotypical expectations about the look and subject matter of Haitian painting, which often centers on Vodou subjects and symbols. Cap-Haitien artists are more likely to feature other themes including historical and civic events, military scenes and everyday life. Other characteristics may include architecture rendered with traditional perspective and pictorial details demonstrating delicate modeling and coloring skills. The exhibition includes 20 items on display which Demme is donating to Ramapo’s permanent collection.  A Sense of Place is curated by Jose Zelaya, with Jonathan Demme, Sydney Jenkins, director of art galleries at Ramapo, and Wael Qattan.

The legendary Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince opened in 1944. The phenomenal success that followed sparked the establishment of a satellite school in Cap-Haitien. Under the direction of the great master Philome Obin, this new organization in northern Haiti enabled many artists to pursue making and selling art. Many members of the Obin family participated and eventually became known for their own related styles. A Sense of Place does not prominently feature Philome Obin but instead highlights his followers and other compelling artists.

Alfred Gabriel, Mass Five O'Clock in the Morning, oil on Masonite, 16 x 16 inches, collection of Jonathan Demme

Alfred Gabriel, Mass Five O’Clock in the Morning, oil on Masonite, 16 x 16 inches, collection of Jonathan Demme

“Many of the rare works on view have never been presented in a public venue,” said Jenkins. “Due to significant donations to the Rodman Collection in recent years, we have fewer Cap-Haitien works than one would expect to find in a comprehensive collection. The wonderful pieces donated by Jonathan Demme balance collection gaps and strengthen our ability to serve the public.”

The Art Galleries receive many requests to loan items from its Haitian art collection to museums, universities and institutions worldwide. Additional events and education programs related to A Sense of Place will be announced at a later date. A catalogue will be available later in the exhibition as well.

The Kresge Gallery is located in the Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts. Kresge Gallery hours are Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. This program is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, contact Sydney Jenkins, director of art galleries, at (201) 684-7147 or Visit the galleries online at


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per

Ramapo College provides its students with individualized attention, mentorship, and supports; hands-on learning; and a range of opportunities for service and leadership development. Its graduation and retention rates exceed national averages and it places approximately 1,000 students per year in internships in New York City. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice; is recognized as the state’s top college on the list of Best Disability Schools by Great Value Colleges; is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools; and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others.  

Ramapo College’s over 40,000 alumni are the confident, intellectually curious, self-aware, and humble people who are highly sought after and who make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels.  Ramapo College is distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by Every student at Ramapo is enrolled in its unique and award winning Pathways Program which equips and empowers students, across the continuum of their academic career, to secure internships, pursue graduate/professional school, and/or enter the job market. 

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, 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 master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


Press Release Archives

| 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 |