A huge congratulations to Laurena Finéus who last night won the Ottawa Arts Council Emerging IBPOC Artist Award. So well deserved!
"I am a Haitian visual artist specializing in painting. My mediums of choice are acrylic and oil. My work explores representations of Haiti and its archives and is informed by my black, female identity. I present a reconstruction of the fragmented history of Haiti to demonstrate the complexity of its people. My lived experiences are centered in each of my works in order to create safe spaces that engage and empower my key audience — the Haitian dyaspora. As Joanne Hyppolite describes in her essay ‘Dyaspora’ (2011), we have always been disconnected from the physical landscape of our homeland as diasporas and this means that we do not grow up with Mapou trees in our yards, unlike our elders or parents. This collision of cultures and uprooting makes our sense of identity fragile and intangible - we are constantly in a state of becoming. Being a Haitian painter born and raised in Canada, I always felt a gap between first and second generation immigrants in my family and I acknowledged the wake of this discomfort with the act of creation. It is through constant challenging of self that I discerned the inherent ‘politics of comfort' shaping the diasporic experience. I felt more comfortable with the ‘unknown’ and frank assimilation, than unraveling the past and present of Haitianhood. Canadian identity is based itself on the violent erasure of indigenous presence and thus that of any other group standing outside of its canon."
Image: “Are you free my daughters?”, acrylic and oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in.