- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - An arts center in Waterloo with the largest public collection of Haitian artwork has acquired a number of new pieces following a visit by organizers to the island.

Kent Shankle and Chawne Paige toured Haiti in late January on behalf of the Waterloo Center for the Arts, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1ekLoQr ). They brought back glittering and beaded textiles, Voodoo flags, painted canvases, wood carvings and other objects.

“We brought home lots of art in our bags and shipped more pieces home by air freight,” said Shankle, the center’s executive director. “One of the pieces is an incredible, large wooden drum with painting and collage by artist Atelier Onel. Spirits are associated with drums, which have an important role in Haitian ceremonies.”

Museum curators and others in the arts community visited Haiti as part of an annual conference for the Haitian Art Society that involved meeting with local artists and others. It was the first time the conference took place in Haiti, and it was the first non-humanitarian group to visit the island since the 2010 earthquake.

“It was so beyond what I expected,” said Paige, the center’s curator. “What touched me was recognizing how the people live in the here-and-now and are so closely connected to each other, and that there are so many artist enclaves,” he said.

Paige and Shankle said they were impressed with how artists have incorporated their earthquake experiences and the aftermath into their work.

“Artists are seeing new things, processing new ideas. It was a rare opportunity for us to see the artists at work, to speak with them and experience their vision firsthand,” Shankle said.

The Waterloo Center for the Arts houses the largest internationally recognized public collection of Haitian artwork. It has been collecting pieces for almost 40 years, following a donor gift from a couple. Other gifts and acquisitions over the years have made the collection bigger.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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