"Garden of Haiti." all views.
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"Garden of Haiti.” 2010 Full and detail views.
82"h x 69"w. #385. Peace Cozy #32. Began sketches 1-22-10, began painting 1-26-10. Finished art quilt 2-27-10.
Whole cloth painting on fabric. Beginning drawing and colors airbrushed on, then airpen writing with fabric paint. Machine crazy grid quilted. One row of hand sewing inside edge of border, using perle cotton. One Green Temple Buddha Boy bead, one Pink Buddha Girl bead. One Peace Cozy appliqué.
Story: This piece is the next in my Kitchen Tarot series, in the Minor cards, chosen by me randomly drawing the Ace of Spoons card for what piece to work on next. But I already knew that the piece’s focus would be Racism, because it was time for me to start my piece for the Obama Quilters’ “Racism: A Dialogue in Art Quilts.”
About this time, the terrible earthquake happened in Haiti, and I decided to honor the people of Haiti by documenting their crisis and delving into the country’s history, to explore racism in the way Haiti was treated by the outside world. I found so much more than I had expected to, I’m sorry to say. Haiti has been a victim of selfish and hurtful people from more powerful countries, from the time Columbus landed on her shores on December 5, 1492.
The Ace of Spoons card is my Kitchen Tarot deck’s name for the Ace of Wands in a regular tarot deck. This card signifies spirit, a new beginning, and basically the gift of creative feistiness. Let us all hope that Haiti will once again rise to the occasion, and become this time a healed and healthy nation, after all her years of enslavement of one type or another.
I based my image on a painting I’d made in 2004, of my character St Quilta the Comforter, sitting in a garden, holding a big bowl. When I’d put that painting on the wall of our food co-op, a few religious women complained to the manager that the piece was voodoo, and that they wanted it taken down. When I heard this, I went in right away and took my piece down, bringing it home. Of course it wasn’t about voodoo, but the conservative women didn’t trust seeing something different. They thought St Q was a voodoo priestess. I couldn’t explain my work to them, so I just brought it home, so the co-op wouldn’t get boycotted by reliegious zealots.
I walked past this painting in my hallway, when I was a little stuck for imagery for this piece. Wow! There was my VOODOO piece! I thought this would work, so I put the old painting on the floor, when I was painting the new piece with my airbrush, and I made sure the new composition for “Garden of Haiti: Ace of Spoons” at least really resembled the smaller painting on wood that I’d done so long ago. It’s a very tropical composition, with an Ohio serpent mound next to the happy St Q woman, who’s sitting in the garden. I altered the design some for the rectangular piece, since the original was square, and I added more symbols. I drew St Q holding up a big wooden spoon, as that’s what the Ace of Spoons needs: one mega spoon!
In the original painting I have a woman looking into the painting from our left, but in this huge piece on cloth, I made a man on the right side, looking across at the woman. At the bottom I added palm trees, many little houses, and the sea. And in the sky I now painted a big pie, which serves as the place for the title of my art quilt. At the bottom of the piece, I put a little bit of the ocean, some beach, a row of tiny houses, and two women facing the viewer, (whereas the man and woman above face each other.) I put palm trees above the little houses.
My big St Q in the middle holds up a big wooden spoon (which I put a big peace symbol on) and cradles a big bowl of one giant apple. On her St Q cross on her chest, I put my green Peace Cozy after I’d made the whole piece and done all the writing. (I always wait to plan where it goes, til the piece is all done. It’s a little game I play with myself.)
I have written many stories on this piece, using articles I found about news after the quake and histories of Haiti. I mixed in my own diary stories and my opinions of what's been going on there now and in the past. In my quest to find racism as a primary cause of Haiti's problems, I foud incredible events, like how France refused to accept Haiti's independence and forced her to pay France $150 million gold francs, starting in 1825, and not ending until 1947, when these payments and tons of interest were finally paid off. I found out that the US, France, and the UK all boycotted Haitian trade when Haiti became free, and that the US didn't recognize Haiti until 1862, tho she won her freedom from France in 1804.
I learned about many countries' ripping Haiti off over the years, and how, when AIDS was discovered in the early 1980s, one of the alert groups was declared to be Haitians, along with homosexuals, heroin users, and hemopheliacs. This blaming a whole nation for AIDS ruined Haiti's tourism and caused a new kind of boycott of her and her products, and a new racism. Haiti has been through a LOT. She has a long way to go to recover from all the abuse by powerful countries in the world, and now, from the earthquake. Please don't forget to keep helping Haiti recover and become self-sufficient someday.
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