On Friday, February 6th, La Lucha: Quisqueya & Haiti, One Island, a collective artist exhibition, opened to the public. I was excited since I found out about the event and looked forward to supporting the effort. To see a collaboration of the two nations on one island is a dream come true. All the historical strife that has been wrought out of xenophobia and antiblackness has been tumultuous, to say the very least. In light of the current immigration issues Haitians are struggling with in the Dominican Republic, this type of exhibition is of utmost importance.
As soon as I got there, I witnessed the reason why this is important. There were anti-Haitian people in the lobby trying to make their way upstairs to the exhibition, disrupting the peaceful and thought-provoking gathering. They were giving out pamphlets, which I took to see what kind of things they were spewing. It saddened my heart to see this display of hatred towards a unification effort. There were also people who made sure that these folks were the least disruptive possible, letting the exhibition curated by Yelanie Rodriguez continue
Yelanie Rodriguez is an fashion artist; she is in partnership with the Haitian Cultural Exchange to make this exhibit happen. Perhaps she was surprised at the volume of guests because there were tons of people who came out to see the beautiful artwork. So much so that at one point of the night, they had to stop letting people in. I was very happy for her; clearly, this had caused some type of stir in the community here in New York City.
A lot, if not most, of the artwork was political in nature. My favorite was the photography series by Yelaine, “El Matrimino Quisqueyano,” which I interpreted as depicting what marriage can be like in Dominican culture. Other pieces of interest include Sable Smith, a Haitian-descendant artist, and her work, “The History Of Silence,” Pepe Coronado’s “Citizenship Revoked II,” both particularly poignant with what has been occurring with current events. Something else I found interesting was the presence of an Asian artist, Moo-Hyun Chung, in the exhibit, which wasn’t strange to me because there is an Asian presence in the Dominican Republic. Their artwork was addressing protests in the country, as well as Monica Lapaz’s piece, “Protesta en Quisqueya”.
The night was full of different emotions, from gratitude that an art exhibition and collaboration was finally made, to being perplexed when challenged on the word Quisqueya, and overwhelmed by both the display of love and hate in one space. The exhibition will be up until February 27th. They will also be hosting an artist talk on February 21st. I wish nothing but good luck and love to Yelanie and the exhibition. La Lucha Sigue!