Bondye: Between and Beyond features twelve elaborate sequined prayer flags created by the Louisiana-born artist Tina Girouard in cultural exchange with Haitian artists in Haiti. During the 1990s, Girouard maintained a studio in Port-au-Prince where she helped create these collective artworks. Sequined prayer flags play an important role in communal gatherings, offerings and the religious rituals of Haitian Vodou. Practiced throughout the world, Vodou today finds expression in rites ranging from All Saints Day in France, to New Orleans Mardi Gras and Haitian Kanaval. These flags celebrate the religion’s multicultural roots, illustrating its melding of West African, Catholic and Haitian spiritual practices. After thousands of enslaved people were brought to Haiti from West Africa in the 16th century, they were not allowed to practice their diverse religions openly and thus forced to blend their customs with the Catholic beliefs of French and Spanish slave owners. Following the path of slavery and colonialism, this spiritual amalgam has helped form religious practices in places across the globe, including New Orleans.
— From the accompanying exhibition text
Tina Girouard was born in in DeQuincy, Louisiana, in 1946. She completed her BFA from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1968. Along with fellow Louisiana artists like Keith Sonnier, Dickie Landry, and Lynda Benglis, her work looks away from the austere minimalism of the time and bursts with exuberant colors, lines and richness. After a decade in New York, her studio was destroyed in a massive fire, and she returned to Louisiana. She is an earnest supporter of the Francophone cultures that spread across the Caribbean and Louisiana, and has maintained a studio in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. She has favored exhibiting outside of the gallery system, championing non profits and more community centric spaces. She is also unique in that her work — video, sound, textile, painting, installations — are well represented in private collections of artists, as well as major museums.
Bondye: Between and Beyond is on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art until October 13, 2019.