Since its inception, Haiti, the second free republic in the Americas, has grappled with enduring misconceptions about its people and the role of Vodou. Haitian artists have been pivotal in visually capturing the cultural interpretations of Vodou, using artistic imagery to document the essence and significance of the tradition’s resistance to colonization. Rooted in Vodou, Haitian inhabitants have preserved an epistemology of liberation through visual depictions—a legacy continued by artists today. LaSirène, the cosmic embodiment of the goddess spirit, and Lwa of the sea serve as a symbol of water, beauty, and fierce sacred healing, having witnessed the middle passage.
This presentation explores LaSirène, particularly within the context of the water Lwa spirits featured in NSU Art Museum’s Cosmic Mirrors exhibition. It also investigates Western depictions of Haiti, revealing distortions that have obscured the nation’s rich cultural fabric. With a focus on Haitian culture’s preservation, the presentation underscores Vodou’s enduring role as a bastion of spiritual expression and resistance against attempts to undermine its importance. Through this exploration, the presentation highlights the intertwined narratives of LaSirène and the water Lwa spirits, unveiling their profound ties to Haiti’s ongoing struggle for identity, autonomy, and cultural preservation. By delving into the role of art in preserving tradition and conveying resistance, the narrative of Haiti’s history is recontextualized, empowering its people to reclaim their stories from misrepresentation.