On Kathia St. Hilaire
Kathia St. Hilaire (b. 1995, West Palm Beach, FL) is a multidisciplinary artist using found materials from beauty products to industrial metals and fabrics, with printmaking and textile techniques to investigate Haitian history and its influences on Haitian diasporic cultures as seen in South Florida. In her newest work, Untitled, available for purchase via private sale through ART FOR CHANGE, St. Hilaire speaks to the concepts of family, fantasy, spirituality and Haitian diasporic culture through richly varied, textured tapestries. As part of our collaboration with Galerie magazine, the work will be on view through January 31, 2023 at Ralph Pucci International (Miami, FL).
33 x 47 inches
Oil-based relief collage with paper and thread
Untitled is an excellent example of the artist’s unique reduction relief painting technique which uses oil-based paints layered upon woven threads and papier maché. The artist's work rises from the wall in waves and ripples—unifying form and flow. Corners coiling up from the wall, the artist builds characters and environments out of her winding, woven foundations, calling them her own Vodun flags, which were imperative to catalyzing and causing the success of the Haitian Revolution.
“I am a scholar as such I have studied the concept of vodun,” writes Hilaire in one of the many yellow notes some with Francois Duvalier quotes hung on the sparkling chainlink fence behind her subjects. Duvalier, colloquially known as Papa Doc, was the former Haitian President who seized and remained in power from 1957 to 1971 often through a number of intense, autocratic means.
The artist reclaims Duvalier's use of spiritual practices and rhetoric on a personal level in Untitled, demonstrating liberatory applications of transcendental language toward an understanding of one’s race and culture in American society.
Haitian Vodun culture is a combination of African mysticism brought to the former colony by slaves and the Catholicism of the slave masters. The Drapou Vodou or Vodun flags are an imperative aspect of practitioners, each depicting a vévé symbol—an image— of the loa, which the flag is dedicated to. Typically beaded and sequins, these flags contain the spirit and energy of what the practitioner is calling in, and honor their forms. Using oil paint and depicting her own family, everyday objects, and cultural ephemera, Hilaire speaks to her transcultural experience and the possibilities of unification of cultural tensions between her ethnic heritage and American upbringing. This tension can be seen in a number of details, with RACE emblazoning the Lightning McQueen t-shirt—his skin presenting numerous gradations of pale pinks to light browns, similar to the skin-lightening cream used in many of the artist’s work.
Untitled will be on view at Ralph Pucci International through January 31, 2023. Inquire with email@example.com regarding availability.