Haitian and Lewiston artists exhibit at Bates Mill Center

The Bates College Multicultural Center and the Creative Photographic Arts Center of Maine are sponsoring an art exhibit, “Two Voices from the Diaspora,” now through March 24. “Move San” (“Bad Blood”) by Haitian painter Joseph Eddy Pierre and “African Elements” by weaver and mixed-media artist Joanna Boley-Lee, a Lewiston resident and director of the affirmative action office at Bates College, comprise the Creative Photographic Arts Center exhibition on the fourth floor of the Bates Mill Enterprise, 59 Canal St. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pierre’s paintings explore several serious issues, including AIDS, death and violence. Pierre focuses on the tragedies and sufferings of children infected with the HIV virus. According to the artist, “innocent children carry a cross that is too heavy for them. They are the real victims of the world.” Referring to wounds that cannot be cured or healed, his work conveys the anger and frustration experienced by people throughout the world.

In addition, Pierre’s art express his outrage at hunger, violence, racial discrimination against blacks, rape and violence against women, the plague of drug addiction and the use of chemical and nuclear weapons.

Born in Cabaret St. Marc, Haiti, Pierre earned a diploma in plastic art from L’Ecole Nationale des Arts in Port-au-Prince. Pierre has participated in group exhibitions, including L’Ecole Nationale des Art (1996), Tele-Nationale (1998) and Musee College Saint Pierre (1999). His first solo exhibition appeared at the Centre d’Art in Haiti (1998), and his U.S. exhibitions include “Haitian Art at the Millennium” at the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artist, Boston. In 1997, Pierre was commissioned by the city of Port au-Prince to create giant puppets to commemorate the founders of Haitian carnival.

Dividing his time between his artwork and teaching, Pierre also volunteers as a teacher at La Maison L’Arc-en-ciel (an AIDS hospice for children in Boutillier) and Association Quart-Monde (a center for homeless children in Port-au-Prince). “Move San” is dedicated to the children at La Maison Arc-en ciel. All proceeds from the sale of his paintings will be donated to the hospice.

“Move San” is the first in a series of 70 shows that Pierre will exhibit in sites throughout the world as part of an initiative “TINTING-70,” conceived by Gina Ulysse, assistant professor of African-American studies at Bates College. Also from Haiti, Ulysse is an anthropologist and poet who received her Ph.D from the University of Michigan.

Joanna Boley-Lee came to Bates College from Trenton State College where she served as the affirmative action officer and a member of the art faculty. She also taught art for 17 years in public schools in California, Washington, D.C., Maryland and New Jersey.

An activist in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Boley-Lee says “My art is a reflection of my life experiences. I have been greatly influenced by the arts and culture of the continent of Africa, most especially the country of Ghana and the Ashante people.” Boley-Lee’s travels to experience the art of other cultures have taken her to Japan, the Caribbean and Africa, where she has studied textiles in Kenya, Uganda and Senegal. Her 1997 trip to Ghana led to an exploration of the Andinkra Cloth of the Ashante people and allowed her to study the symbols used to design the cloth and the making of the material, including the process of strip weaving.

Boley-Lee has participated in a number of group exhibitions including the Standard Oil of California Art Exhibit in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Links Art Exhibit. Her works have also been included in gallery exhibits throughout the country.

For more information about the exhibition, call 207-786-8215 or 207-782 1369.

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