New Visions of Haiti in Haitian Art

Tuesday 19th September

In this talk, acclaimed Haitian artist François Cauvin and University of Glasgow researcher Dr Rachel Douglas will be in conversation.


Haiti is known as a nation of artists, with visual art seeping through every crack in the pavements and roads. By focusing on the art of one particular Haitian artist, François Cauvin who has been based in Montreal since the 1970s, we will look at how artwork is shaping Haiti today. What can we learn from Haitian visual art? What could be done with these rich visual resources? The legacies of Haiti’s successful Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) reverberate in Haitian contemporary art, including Cauvin’s iconic portraits of Haitian revolutionary men and women.

Our talk will explore the visual dimensions linking Haiti’s pasts, presents and futures. As Cauvin’s art shows us, the aftershocks of Haiti’s revolutionary past continue to this day—the Haitian Revolution is still not over yet. This talk will focus on the tension between the largely negative, stereotyped “same old” media representations of Haitians and Haitian self-representation which imagines possibilities for what the future of Haiti could look like.

François Cauvin is an acclaimed Haitian artist based in Montreal. His iconic portrait of Toussaint Louverture with a guinea fowl forming his hat is the cover image of Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture. The famous portrait has now travelled far and wide as this book won the Wolfson Prize, the UK’s most prestigious history prize. Recently he has completed portraits of Haiti’s revolutionary women, including Sanite Belair and Marie-Jeanne Lamartinière. With funding from the Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund, Cauvin will speak with Rachel Douglas at UK museums and the Houses of Parliament on the topic “Visual Aftershocks of the Haitian Revolution.”

Rachel Douglas is Reader in French and Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow. She is the author of two books: Making The Black Jacobins: C. L. R. James and the Drama of History (Duke University Press, 2019) and Frankétienne and Rewriting: A Work in Progress (Lexington Books, 2009). Her research is on Caribbean literature, history, film, visual art, and archives with a focus on Haiti. She has been awarded Research Fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society of Edinburgh and Arts and Humanities Research Council and grants from the British Library Endangered Archives Programme and the Prince Claus Fund.

Event supported with funding from the Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund.

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