Posted yesterday at 4:00 p.m.
Born in Chicago, Michaëlle Sergile spent her early childhood in Haiti before arriving in Quebec at the age of 7. The artist and curator studied psychology and art therapy, before turning to visual arts at UQAM.
Her journey began in 2017 as part of a collective, Human After All, which exhibited in Brooklyn and Miami. His career sprang up like a geyser, thanks to the support of his teachers, including Anne-Marie Ninacs and Michael Robinson, and gallery owner Patrick Mikhail. History, black communities and colonialism nourish her medium, the loom. Making links between texts and textiles, she specialized in installations with a sociological content. An avenue born of his fascination with the Martinican essayist, psychiatrist and anti-colonialist Frantz Fanon (1925-1961).
His studio – in the Jano Lapin gallery, in Verdun – is tiny. A small desk, a chair, some accessories and his works hanging on the wall. She has no room for her personal loom and often uses a digital loom available in the Milieux Institute for Arts department, at Concordia.
Michaëlle Sergile was marked by the poem The Mask (We Wear The Mask)by poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, recited by Maya Angelou (1928-2014) in a video where the American writer evokes her meeting with Rosa Parks, an emblematic figure in the fight against racial segregation in the United States.
She shot a video of it, To Hold a Smile, on the smile as a force of resilience. A smile that turns into a grin. She also used the voice of Maya Angelou to “weave sound”. She printed the variations of the voice and put them vertically, resulting in lines that she then wove. This gave the installation We Wear the Mask.
“What interests me is being able to say things that are not said, to think about blind spots,” she says. The poem is poignant, but what does it mean? Does that mean anything to parents who migrate? For a family rebuilding in another country? I saw it in my own family. To smile is to be welcoming in order to be better welcomed. And also force yourself to work and get up after leaving everything behind. »
Michaëlle Sergile has been participating since May 21 in an exhibition in Senegal, in parallel with the 14e Dakar Biennial. She presents a work on the Fyet Lalo (Lalo girls), named after these feminine tontons macoutes who supported the Haitian dictatorship of François Duvalier. A sweet children’s nursery rhyme that evokes violence. “I thought it was in continuity with what I had done on the smile,” she says.
Proud to be in Dakar, Michaëlle Sergile believes that since Stanley February’s brilliant action at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, in 2019, to demand more visibility for artists of diversity, things have improved. . “In terms of programming, there is a change. On the other hand, does it also change in terms of structures? In 1989, there was the same speech and it hadn’t changed anything. These are the structures that need to be changed. »
Thanks to a grant from the Longueuil art center Plein Sud, Michaëlle Sergile is creating a work that pays homage to black communities, rendered from a photograph of 78 children. A photo from the archives of Union United Church, the oldest black congregation in Montreal, located near Lionel-Groulx station, where jazz pianist Oliver Jones played. Plein Sud will exhibit this great memorial work in 2023.
Michaëlle Sergile is also in residence at the La Coulée workshop, a foundry in Pointe-Saint-Charles, in order to train in welding. “I want to make a fairly large structure that will be able to support a very, very long weave. I am at the tenth of the creation of the metal structure! She cannot say more about this new installation which will address the theme of migration of black communities in Canada.