Caribbean Carnival: Tradition of Artistry, Visions of Change
at WheatonArts, July 8 thru November 27
This exhibition explores several major themes of the Caribbean Carnival as reflected in the meanings and aesthetics of its traditional art forms. Concepts of formation and preservation of identity and community, co-existence of opposing cultural values and norms, as well as perceptions of good and evil over time and across cultures are implicitly woven into the exhibit story. Displays of masks, images, and interpretive materials along with a series of educational programs are designed to provide a holistic experience of the exhibition themes and a deeper understanding of both the Carnival symbolism and its artistic expressions. The exhibition celebrates the diverse and common traditions of the Caribbean cultures through their practice of the Carnival, which links them to all other neighboring communities in our area that share similar masquerade practices.
The masks and costumes on display represent techniques and patterns that are brought to our region from various Caribbean countries and preserved by the local artists and communities as expressions of identity and artistry. They include Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Garifuna people of Belize, and Honduras. Many of the artworks also provide insights into regional differences of mask making within a certain culture, such as the examples provided for the Puerto Rican vejigantes and the Dominican mascaras. The masks and costumes are associated with characters that are typical of the various Carnival practices of the Caribbean communities and tell fascinating stories about their history, syncretism of belief systems, social interactions or events of great impact on people’s lives.
The various displays also address the themes of continuity and change of the Caribbean Carnival arts as some of the exhibited masks follow older patterns, symbols, and colors associated with the masks making, while others present contemporary visions of the Carnival traditions. The visual story reveals elements of adaptation and integration over time as interpreted from the individual artistic perspectives.
Featured artists include:
Miguel Carabello Jr.
Jean-Jacques Jules Andre