On Haitian Heritage and ‘Rewriting History’

Fabiola Jean-Louis (Photo via The Haitian Times)

Earlier this year, BK Reader wrote about the “meteoric rise” of Fabiola Jean-Louis, the Brooklyn artist behind the “Rewriting History: paper gowns and photographs” exhibit at the DuSable Museum in Chicago.

The Haitian Times speaks to the Haiti native on what influenced the work, described as a series that “uses the juxtaposition of 18th Century imagery of White noble women, with symbols of the Black experience cleverly incorporated in each image.”

How does your Haitian heritage influence your work?

I’m extremely proud of being Haitian, and I try to insert my Haitian identity wherever I can. Haiti being the first independent Black nation inspires all of my work. It pushes me to celebrate us, and constantly reminds me the Black experience is nonlinear.

What inspired your Rewriting History series?

I started thinking about the series at a time when police brutality against Black bodies seemed to be in the news almost every week. I was outraged, and desperately wanted to create a body of work that would speak on the matter. But, I didn’t want to just do that (speak on brutality and violence against people of color). There was a greater desire to interrogate how society came to a place where violence against other human beings – specifically Blacks – was not only acceptable, but justified, no matter the reason.

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