Kathia St. Hilaire

Invisible Empires

May 11, 2024–September 22, 2024

Kathia St. Hilaire

Kathia St. Hilaire

Caco: Rosalvo Bobo

Reduction linocut in oil-based ink on canvas with skin lightening cream packaging, steel, aluminum, banknotes, banana stickers, paper and tires
Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli

Kathia St. Hilaire’s distinctive technique combines printmaking, painting, collage, and weaving. By building up as many as forty or fifty layers of ink from carved linoleum blocks, St. Hilaire (b. 1995, Palm Beach, FL; lives and works in New York) creates striking surface textures. The substance of her work is equally layered: St. Hilaire, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, tells stories of that country’s history and the long shadows it casts, from French colonialism to independence, from U.S. occupation to the diasporic communities in which she was raised. The exhibition subtitle, “Invisible Empires,” refers to the legacy of foreign interventions in the Caribbean and the persistence of subtler forms of imperialism today.
In narrating her stories, St. Hilaire blends historical facts with the larger-than-life legends of Haiti’s famed personalities and describes her work as “magical realist.” In representing creolized cultures, the artist uses a collage of nontraditional materials, from banknotes and banana stickers to product packaging and tire treads. And like the open weaving at the edges of her work, the artist suggests, the Haitian revolution is itself an unfinished project. Contained within these vibrant, dreamlike pictures are past present, and the suggestion of possible futures.

This exhibition is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Robert Wiesenberger, curator of contemporary projects at the Clark, with Tyler Blackwell, curator of contemporary art at the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Thomas and Lily Beischer, Richard and Margaret Kronenberg, and Denise Littlefield Sobel.