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Symbols of Freedom: The Power of Revolution

Lobey-Bienfaisance Art Initiative

Symbols of Freedom: The Power of Revolution is a captivating art exhibition that explores the profound and mystical world of Vodou through the medium of painting. Centered around the Vèvè , the intricate and powerful logos associated with the spirits (loas) in the Vodou religion, this exhibition celebrates the rich cultural heritage and spiritual practices of Haiti. The artworks presented invite viewers on a transformative journey, where they can delve into the symbolism, history, and artistic interpretations of these sacred symbols.


Marassa Trio

Symbols of Freedom seeks to shed light on the multifaceted aspects of Vodou and its central role in the cultural fabric of Haiti. The exhibition showcases a collection of mesmerizing paintings by renowned artist Evens Florestal, who skillfully weaves together his artistic prowess, profound understanding of Vodou, and personal experiences as a Haitian immigrant living in New York.

As visitors step into the exhibition space, they are immediately transported into a realm where vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and spiritual symbolism come alive. The walls are adorned with large-scale paintings, each meticulously crafted to capture the essence of specific veves. Florestal's mastery of brushwork and attention to detail allow the veves to exude energy and invoke a sense of connection with the divine.


Symbols of Freedom: The Power of Revolution

The exhibition is organized thematically, inviting viewers to explore different facets of Vodou through the lens of veves. The sections include:

The Veves of Ancestry: This section pays homage to the ancestral spirits, honoring the lineage and wisdom that permeate Haitian culture. The paintings here depict veves associated with ancestral spirits, evoking a sense of reverence and respect for the spiritual heritage passed down through generations.

Manifestations of Power: In this section, Florestal explores the veves representing powerful loas, such as Erzulie, Ogou, and Papa Legba. The artworks reflect the strength, passion, and transformative energy that these spirits embody, capturing their diverse manifestations through vivid colors and dynamic compositions.

Guardians of Nature: Here, the veves associated with the spirits of nature, such as Damballah and Ayida Wedo, take center stage. The paintings highlight the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world, inviting viewers to contemplate their relationship with the environment and the wisdom that can be gleaned from these spirits.

Rituals and Ceremonies: This section offers glimpses into the rituals and ceremonies where veves play a pivotal role. The paintings depict scenes of vibrant gatherings, where devotees honor the loas through music, dance, and prayer. Florestal's art captures the energy and devotion of these rituals, transporting viewers into the captivating world of Vodou.


Logo of the Loa (vodou spirit)


Sobo ak Bade




Tambou Agou, Mouchwa Dambalah ak Erzuli

Interactive elements, such as audio recordings of Vodou chants and the display of an actual veve on the gallery floor, further enhance the immersive experience, allowing visitors to engage with the sights and sounds associated with these spiritual practices.


Throughout the exhibition, visitors are provided with contextual information about the history, symbolism, and significance of veves in Vodou.

Symbols of Freedom is a celebration of artistic expression, cultural heritage, and spiritual exploration. It invites viewers to appreciate the beauty and complexity of Vodou while challenging preconceived notions and fostering a deeper understanding of Haiti's rich traditions and resilience.


Evens Florestal


Evens Florestal, a gifted artist born on December 8, 1975, possesses a deep understanding of the arts, which is further enriched by his classical education. He honed his artistic skills through his studies at ENARTS, the prestigious National School of the Arts in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This rigorous training provided him with a solid foundation and a diverse set of techniques to explore and express his creative vision.

Florestal's artwork delves into profound themes of cultural identity, history, and societal questions, which hold great significance in his native land. Haiti, with its complex history and rich cultural heritage, serves as a constant source of inspiration for his artistic practice. His paintings serve as a visual commentary on the struggles, triumphs, and aspirations of the Haitian people, capturing the essence of their collective experiences.

Through his art, Florestal brings to the forefront issues such as social inequality, political turmoil, and the resilience of the Haitian people. His works serve as a medium for exploring the nuances of cultural identity, delving into the intricate tapestry of Haitian history, and examining the socio-political dynamics that shape the country's present and future.

In addition to his artistic pursuits, Florestal's intellectual curiosity led him to attend the College of Ethnology at the State University of Haiti. This academic endeavor expanded his understanding of cultural anthropology and further informed his artistic exploration of identity and societal issues.

Recently, Florestal made the significant decision to immigrate to New York with his family, seeking new artistic opportunities and avenues for growth. His move to this vibrant cultural hub has allowed him to immerse himself in a diverse artistic community, expand his artistic horizons, and continue his artistic training and education.

In conclusion, Evens Florestal, with his natural talents for the arts and solid classical education, showcases a profound understanding of cultural identity, history, and societal questions through his thought-provoking paintings. His works encapsulate the spirit and struggles of his native Haiti, while also reflecting his ongoing journey as an artist in his new home of New York.


Symbols of Freedom: The Power of Revolution is curated by Marie Vickles LHCC's Curator-in-Residence and organized by Romuald Blanchard of Lobey Art & Travel.

Exhibition runs February 1 to March 12, 2016 at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. 

Threshold betwen Religion and Art

The threshold between religion and art is a complex and multifaceted concept that has been debated by scholars and artists for centuries. At its core, this threshold is the boundary that separates religious practices and beliefs from artistic expression and creativity. However, the line between the two can often become blurred, with art often being used as a means of expressing religious beliefs and vice versa.

One way to understand the threshold between religion and art is to consider the different ways in which these two domains approach the concept of truth. While religion typically relies on divine revelation and faith as sources of truth, art tends to rely on human experience and creativity as sources of truth. This fundamental difference in approach can create tension between the two domains, as artists may challenge religious beliefs or religious leaders may criticize artistic expression that conflicts with their beliefs.

Another aspect of the threshold between religion and art is the use of symbolism and imagery. Religious art often uses symbols and images to convey theological concepts and to evoke emotions and spiritual experiences in the viewer. Similarly, secular art can use symbolism and imagery to explore philosophical and existential questions, or to provoke emotional responses in the viewer. However, the use of these symbols and images can also be a point of contention, with some religious groups objecting to the use of certain symbols or images that they deem inappropriate or sacrilegious.

Overall, the threshold between religion and art is a complex and dynamic concept that is shaped by historical, cultural, and social factors. While the two domains can sometimes be in conflict, they can also complement each other, providing unique insights into the human experience and the search for meaning and purpose in life.

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