The beat of rara drums and the swirl of compas music comes from the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. Have we stumbled onto a voodoo ceremony? No, people in elegant dress move lithely to the music, hold cocktails, and munch on curried goat as they peer at animated paintings. No chickens being slaughtered! But it's obviously a ceremony, an avant-garde happening that stimulates all five senses. An "art in motion" installation by Haitian visual artist TIGA opens a monthlong cultural series commemorating Haiti's bicentennial.
On Saturday, TIGA himself tells "An Artistic Tale of the Haitian Struggle" through art, with the aid of music and dance from Ayabonmbe, a Miami-based Haitian Afro-pop band that specializes in racine, or roots music, the African-derived rhythms of the mountain people of Haiti. At the same time, a stationary exhibition of his work opens in the museum lobby and remains through May 31. In 100 six-by-nine-inch works of art painted especially for this exhibition, TIGA (Jean Claude Garoute), founder and facilitator of the Saint Soleil school of Haitian painting, tells the history of his country. Since he doesn't title his work, you'd better do some reading so you'll recognize Toussaint L'Ouverture when you see him. (Hint: L'Ouverture was the self-educated slave who led the revolt that resulted in Haiti's independence, only to be betrayed and murdered by Napoleon years later.)
Also opening Saturday is "The Indigo Room," an installation by Miami-based Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, the museum's first artist in residence. Duval-Carrié, who has tiled the wall and ceiling of a room with the help of Dillard High School art students, also tells the history of Haiti, but in a more mystical, even mythical way. -- Tomi Curtis