Kathia St. Hilaire. Marassa Twins, 2019. Oil-based relief on paper-backed canvas. 48 x 60 inches. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, gift of Leslie and Michael Weissman
Imbued with motifs drawn from Haitian Vodou, the Haitian Revolution, and ancestral spirits, Kathia St. Hilaire’s paintings present a poetic representation of the African diasporic experience. Her paintings are labor–intensive projects in which the artist covers the paintings with several layers of paint through linoleum block printing techniques. She then carves out the composition and adds additional materials back into the work. In Marassa Twins, St. Hilaire depicts a garden scene from her childhood that recalls her experiences playing with friends in her own backyard. In the painting, children are playing in the grass while the Marrasa Twins—a three-headed ancient Vodou spirit that protects children—hovers in the center of the image overlooking the children. The white staff with hearts is a reference to the loa Erzulie Dantor, a senior deity or loa of the Vodou tradition. In the painting, St. Hilaire creates a striking, poetic, and energetic scene that embodies the beauty of Haitian culture while challenging stereotypical depictions of Vodou.