This spring, CSAS is pleased to feature a collection of paintings by Michel Obin and Faustin Dumé. The exhibit, “From Haiti to Mt. Olive,” is free and open to the public. An artists’ reception will be held at the Love House & Hutchins Forum on Wednesday, March 5 at 5:30 pm. This event is co-sponsored by UNC’s Center for Global Initiatives, Institute for the Study of the Americas, Department of American Studies, Department of Anthropology, and Art Department, as well as Duke University’s Forum for Scholars and Publics.
Michel Obin hails from Cap Haïtien, Haiti, the second largest city after Port-au-Prince. During his youth, Obin travelled extensively in northern Haiti, and he remembers fondly the markets, weddings, religious ceremonies, and national celebrations from the rural and mountainous side of the island. Today, he lives in Mount Olive, North Carolina, where he paints scenes that are alive in his memory and historical events that greatly impacted the American continent.
Obin began painting at an early age, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Sénèque Obin, and his great uncle Philomé Obin, two of the greatest Haitian painters of the twentieth century. Like them, Obin paints scenes that depict the private and public lives of Haitian revolutionary figures. Intimate scenes such as the last moments that Louverture spent with his family blend with major geopolitical events such as Louverture’s capture by the French, which occurred a few hours after his final family reunion.
Obin has both a rich historical imagination and a remarkable ability to render the details of rural life in Haiti, a country he left 27 years ago to pursue his career as an artist in Florida. Now living in Mount Olive, Obin states, “the trees, the flowers, the calm, and the architecture of this little town remind me of old Haitian cities and, at the same time, of the countryside I used to stride across in my youth.” Most of the works displayed here were painted in Mount Olive, where Obin has lived since 2011.
Faustin Dumé is a Haitian artist who resides in Mount Olive, North Carolina. Dumé left Les Cayes, a city on the southern coast of Haiti, in 2002. With his wife, Dumé first settled in Florida before moving to Mount Olive in 2010. He found work in a local factory and paints at night, after work, or on Sundays.
Dumé began painting in 1996 and has never received formal training. He has an acute sense of movement and an eye for subtle tones and contrasts. The Vodou ceremonies, the dances occurring during celebrations of Lwas (Vodou Gods), and the ritual activities depicted in his paintings are enlivened by Dumé’s capacity of reproducing the visible and invisible motions of crucial elements of Haitian popular beliefs.
Dumé and his wife belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and do not practice Vodou themselves. Dumé states, “I do not believe in Vodou, but I know a lot about it. It was all around me when I grew up in Haiti—it’s a part of our national culture. Anyway, when I sit down to paint, only Vodou scenes come to my mind.” Like Michel Obin, Dumé bases his work on memories of Haiti recalled from Mount Olive, a city that harbors and inspires two exceptional visual artists who revisit and reinvent the past and present of Haiti.
See more of the artists’ work via the links below: