The mystery of the giant corn painting at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago

Elsie Hernandez, the founder and president of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago, wants you to know some crucial facts about Haiti:

The French, in typical colonialist fashion, plundered the resources of Haiti using the labor of enslaved Africans to make themselves rich. The enslaved people of Haiti defeated the French, and by liberating themselves, caused slave holders everywhere to live in terror that their own enslaved people would rise up and defeat them as well. The US refused to recognized Haitian independence and embargoed trade to keep the knowledge of their revolution from spreading. Napoleon tried to reinstate slavery and the Haitians defeated him too. Napoleon put his tail between his legs and decided to to sell the Louisiana Purchase to the United States. So thanks to the Haitians, we have the continental United States.

On entering the HAMOC (we museum people do love our acronyms), you’ll encounter many art works that tell this history of Haiti. If you’re as lucky as we were, your tour guide will be the uber-dynamic Ms. Hernandez herself. At any rate, I’m more of an art person than a history person, so I’ll leave Ms. Hernandez to walk you through the historical art (some commissioned by her for the museum) and I’ll give you a taste of the charming Cap-Haitian style.

Cap-Haitian style is a region in the northern coast of Haiti, and after seeing these paintings, I long to visit there.

Carnival, Josias Bellanous, Oil on Board, 1987

Judging from the paintings, the architecture of the Cap-Haitian area is all dreamy pastels and roof-high shutters.

Dude in the green pants is headed to a Cap-Haitian carnival.

Untitled, Elina Jean, oil on canvas, 2007

Cap-Haitian children are adorably clean cut, and wear neat little uniforms.

I did find some things about these paintings mysterious, however.  For example, why do children and grownups of the Cap-Haitian region have such funny butts?

Detail of Ceremonie Bois Caiman 14, Jean Paul Pierre

And perhaps the biggest Cap-Haitian mystery of all: the giant corn!

Detail of Mother and Child, Jonas Profil, oil on canvas, 2007

This Cap-Haitian dog could probably explain it all, but he doesn’t want to.

Detail of Saturday Market, Seymore Etienne Bottex, Acrylic on canvas, 2007

In my last post I begged my readers to go out and support museums (I also posted some photos my mom disapproved of—hope you like these better, mom).  If you’re in the Chicago area, you know what to do: make your way on over HAMOC and see these charismatic paintings for yourself.  




  1. Really interesting to have a specialized museum from a tiny country where disapora wanted to promote.

    I can imagine the children in their blue uniforms. Something quite colonial about that. But saves parents money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it is quite a successful museum because I learned a lot there.

      I would have hated wearing a uniform, but now I see the value in the way it minimizes class differences since even small children can be conscious of the value of clothing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too didn’t go to a school that required a uniform, except for phys. ed.


      2. My neither. The only time I ever wore a uniform was at summer camp,


  2. Interesting historical tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. History is not my strongest area so I rely on art to teach me.

      Liked by 1 person

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