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Remember the Rain

Aug 18 2023 – Oct 28 2024

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

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A popular Haitian proverb says: “Remember the rain that makes your corn grow.”

This expression of gratitude, remembrance, perseverance, and an understanding of the connectedness between heaven and earth resonates across the works in this gallery. A group of mid-20th century Haitian paintings form a jumping-off point. Vibrantly colored and graphically rendered, each painting presents a narrative scene that draws on different vantage points of Haitian life: the relationships between landscape and community, between spirituality and the earthly environment, or the mundane thrums of daily life. The strong sense of storytelling reflected in these paintings is echoed in Barbara Earl Thomas’s works, which draw on mythic or folkloric iconography as much as lived experience to depict epic tales of catastrophe and heroism that unfold before your eyes. In Jamaican artist Ebony Patterson’s work, we see a narrative at its abrupt end: a person lying facedown, hidden among ornately decorated flora. Her use of vivid colors and shiny sequins layered over the macabre scene cites bling funerals, a popular practice in Kingston’s working class communities expressing the sentiment, “You may not have noticed me when I was alive, but you will damn well see me as I leave.” Meanwhile, the stone sculptures of small animals by James Washington, Jr., are earthly in material and subject but resonate with what the artist described as a “spiritual force.”

Image: Clermelle: Sea God, ca. 1945-48, Hector Hyppolite, Haitian, 1894-1948, oil on cardboard, 29 ¼ x 23 ¼ in. (74.3 x 59.06 cm), Gift of Anne and Sidney Gerber, 53.163. Photo: Scott Leen

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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