For Immediate Release
July 27, 2022


Williamstown, Massachusetts—On Wednesday, August 3 at 6 pm, the Clark Art Institute hosts a conversation with cultural critic Donette Francis and artist Tomm El-Saieh focused on imagery that has long animated the international art market's interest in Haitian art. The discussion is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Tomm El-Saieh: Imaginary City. The event takes place in the Clark’s auditorium.

Building on the exhibition’s title, Imaginary City (Vilaj Imaginé), Francis engages El-Saieh in a conversation that draws upon his disorienting abstractionist aesthetics as well as his lineage as a multi-generational gallerist (in Port-au-Prince and Miami). The discussion explores how El-Saieh creates space for more divergent Haitian artistic expressions. El-Saieh’s large-format, abstract paintings teem with dense and dynamic marks that evoke ornament, language, and architecture. By variously layering and erasing his linework and using vibrant color to optically push or pull his pictures, El-Saieh creates rhythmic, all-over compositions from which larger forms appear to emerge—testing both the limits of our perception and our expectations about abstraction.

El-Saieh was born in Haiti and grew up in Miami; he is of Haitian, Palestinian, and Israeli descent. He was the subject of a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami in 2018 and was included in the New Museum triennial in New York that year. He is partner at the artist-run gallery CENTRAL FINE in Miami and long directed the El-Saieh Gallery in Port-au-Prince, a venue for contemporary Haitian artists that his grandfather established in the 1950s. Francis is an associate professor of English and American Studies at the University of Miami, where she is a founding member of the Hemispheric Caribbean Studies Collective. She is also the author of Fictions of Feminine Citizenship: Sexuality and the Nation in Contemporary Caribbean Literature.

Free; no registration is required. For more information, visit

Tomm El-Saieh: Imaginary City appears in public spaces around the Clark through January 8, 2023. The exhibition is free and open to the public. It is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Robert Wiesenberger, curator of contemporary projects.

The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 285,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Its 140-acre campus includes miles of hiking and walking trails through woodlands and meadows, providing an exceptional experience of art in nature. Galleries are open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday, from September through June, and daily in July and August. Advance tickets are strongly recommended. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, all visitors age 21 and under, and students with a valid student ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; and EBT Card to Culture. For information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303. 

Use of facemasks is optional for all visitors. For details on health and safety protocols, visit

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