Jheryca Williams, a junior majoring in secondary education

Jheryca Williams, a junior majoring in secondary education, examines the displays at Sacred Symbols in Sequins. The exhibit is on display at Gallery 210 through March 15. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Gallery 210’s latest exhibit brings the sacred, the sequined and the misunderstood together in one room.

“Sacred Symbols in Sequins: Vintage Haitian Vodou Flags” will be on display in Gallery 210 through March 15. The show focuses on 16 early- to mid-20th century Haitian Voodoo flags, or drapo Vodou, and also includes sequined libation bottles and photos of contemporary Vodou practitioners.

The exhibit seeks to combat the negative Hollywood stereotype of Vodou as something dark and dangerous by displaying the intricate, colorful objects. The flags are used in rituals to represent the beauty of the Vodou gods and their presence in the temple. Designs are rendered in painstaking detail with thousands of beads and sequins.

To create each flag, an artist stretches strong fabric such as cotton or burlap across a wooden frame, and draws or stencils an outline of the design onto the fabric. Then, the artist hand sews each bead, sequin or other decoration into place. The process can take as little as a week or several months, depending on the size and the design.

Sacred Symbols in Sequins is visiting Gallery 210 through ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. The exhibition is supported in part by grants from the Regional Arts Commission, the Missouri Arts Council and UMSL’s Center for the Humanities. Admission is free. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gallery 210 is on UMSL’s north campus, at 44 East Drive, between the North UMSL Metro Station and the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

The UMSL Experience

Rachel Webb

Rachel Webb