Bordering the Imaginary: Art From the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Their Diasporas

Throughout history, the Dominican Republic and Haiti have at times been allies and foes due to demographic and cultural differences.  The two Caribbean countries that share the small island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region, bears a brutally racialized history but has managed to persist as a space of cultural fluidity and collaboration. The 1800s saw moments of unity on Hispaniola, and the embrace of blackness in the Dominican Republic, prior to Trujillo’s tyrannically “whitening” rule.

Raúl Recio  Los dibujos de la Chapeadora (Drawings of the Gold-digger), 2015
Raúl Recio Los dibujos de la Chapeadora (Drawings of the Gold-digger), 2015

Bordering the Imaginary: Art from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Their Diasporasis an exhibition of contemporary artworks organized into four parts, using an array of media that interrelates the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  Curated by Abigail Lapin Dardashti, a Franco-Dominican American Ph.D. candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center and specialist in postwar Latin American art, the exhibition, sponsored by Goya, brings together Dominican and Haitian artists based in both the island and in the U.S.

Alex Morel Haitians Crossing the Ouanaminthe/Dajabón Border on Their Way to the Binational Market on the Dominican Side, 2015
Alex Morel Haitians Crossing the Ouanaminthe/Dajabón Border on Their Way to the Binational Market on the Dominican Side, 2015

Through the exhibition, accompanying catalogue, and public programs, Bordering the Imaginary investigates definitions of nationhood as it relates to these two countries, their tradition of cultural and social exchange, and the racism and social injustices that have long impacted the people of both nations, creating a vivid visual narrative and opportunities for discourse that reconsider differences and commonalities between the distinct but intertwined communities of these two Caribbean countries that share a single island.


“We’re very excited to present a rich cross-cultural dialogue that underscores the possibility of exchange, interaction, and open borders,” said Elizabeth Ferrer, BRIC’s Vice President of Contemporary Art. “Focusing on the vital artistic contributions of artists of Haitian and Dominican descent, this exhibition amply reflects BRIC’s mission to reflect the creativity and diversity of Brooklyn as well as to make cultural programming genuinely accessible and relevant to a broad public.”

Bordering the Imaginary features artwork by Edouard Duval-Carrié, Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Patrick Eugène, iliana emilia garcia, Scherezade Garcia, Leah Gordon with André Eugène & Evel Romain from atis rezistans, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Tessa Mars, Pascal Meccariello, Groana Meléndez, Alex Morel, Raquel Paiewonsky, Raúl Recio, Freddy Rodríguez, Julia Santos Solomon, Nyugen E. Smith, and Roberto Stephenson.

The first, of the four-part exhibit, Revolutions and Unifications: The Contemporary Resonance of 19th Century History, explores how both Dominican and Haitian contemporary artists repurpose images and ideas from the 19th century in order to recover the history of cultural and socio-political exchange during this period, up until the murderous anti-Haitian Dictator Rafael Trujillo.

In the works here, artists like Freddy Rodríguez and Vladimir Cybil Charlier take up subjects such as the Maroons—Africans who escaped slavery and lived in hiding in the island’s mountainous regions, who managed to organize and insurrect. Other artists explore the 1791 slave revolt that evolved into the Haitian Revolution. The latter is illustrated in work by Tessa Mars, whose self-portraits see her envisioning herself as various Haitian revolutionary leaders.

Tessa Mars Dress Rehearsal, 2017-18
Tessa Mars Dress Rehearsal, 2017-18

The second part of the exhibit, Borders, Fragmentations, and Intertwinings, explores the border itself, a political demarcation that has been both the site of violence and porous exchange between Dominicans and Haitians. Dominican artist Pascal Meccariello’s installation Mapping on Broken History, for instance, uses fragmented maps and pages from Dominican and Haitian history textbooks; he covers his fluid rendering of the island with images of Trujillo, at once demonstrating the remnants of colonialism and the endurance of fluidity despite it.

Edouard Duval-Carrié  Hispañola Saga: El tigere y el congo (Hispaniola Saga: The Tiger and the Congo), 2015
Edouard Duval-Carrié Hispañola Saga: El tigere y el congo (Hispaniola Saga: The Tiger and the Congo), 2015

Edourd Duval-Carrié’s acrylic work, El tigere y el congo, pictured above, depicts, on either side of the river that runs along the border, concepts of masculinity and power in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Another work, the film Ti tonton bat tanbou (Little Uncle Plays the Drums), made by Haitian artists André Eugène and Evel Romain and British artist Leah Gordon, is an artistic gesture towards the transcendence of the borderline, and a transnational Hispaniolan sensibility, documenting wooden figurines made in the artists’ studio crossing the border and being sold to tourists in the Dominican Republic. The works in this section depict how the identities of residents in Hispaniola and the diaspora intertwine and crystallize, forming new characteristics that go beyond those assigned by the nation-states.

Bodies Transformed, the third section, features works that reject traditional portraiture while representing identity through commonplace objects specific to Hispaniola in order to challenge race-based definitions of identity. Responding to this idea, Dominican-American artist iliana emilia garcía contributes a major, site-specific installation, The Sage and the Dreamer, composed of handmade wood and straw chairs sold throughout the countryside in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Wrapped around a pillar in BRIC’s gallery and approximately 20 feet tall, the chairs resemble a tree and act as a symbol of individuality, domesticity and communal exchange between Haitians and Dominicans. Also drawing on objects’ ability to elicit the complexities of a place, in his Made in Haiti series, the photograph below depicts how photographer Roberto Stephenson collects handmade objects from the streets of Port-au-Prince and sheds new light on their intricate detail and the creative ingenuity of people who make do with so little.

Roberto Stephenson biznis konprime, Ri Kristòf, Pòtoprens, (Pills Business, Christophe Street, Port-au-Prince), 2015
Roberto Stephenson biznis konprime, Ri Kristòf, Pòtoprens, (Pills Business, Christophe Street, Port-au-Prince), 2015

The final section of the exhibition, Memories of a Utopian Island and the Future, is a collaboration between Haitian-American artist Vladimir Cybil Charlier and Dominican-American artist Scherezade Garcia to be presented in BRIC’s Project Room. It features animated videos and installation that addresses various contemporary issues related to the diaspora. One such video is Conversation Thread, which sees the artists speaking French, English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole as their silhouettes intertwine. Lapin Dardashti writes, “Memories of a Utopian Island does not claim a sameness between the two countries. Indeed, numerous works in Bordering the Imaginary express distinct aspects of each nation … The countries maintain different cultures and modes of self-definition, but also share many cultural, economic, and historical notions that complicate the kinds of identities constructed by political powers.” Bordering the Imaginary aims to challenge these historically embedded categories, wrought as they often are by racist ideologies, through creativity and collaboration.

In conjunction with Goya’s lead sponsorship of the exhibition and as part of the company’s Goya Gives initiative, BRIC will facilitate an artist residency at the Orfanato Niños de Cristo orphanage in La Romana, located on the Dominican / Haitian border, and founded by Henry Cardenas and Marc Anthony of the Maestro Cares Foundation.

“We are honored to be the lead sponsor of the new BRIC exhibition and value organizations like BRIC who share the same mission in bringing communities together,” said Rafael Toro, Director of Public Relations of Goya Foods.  

Exhibiting artist iliana emilia garcía will travel to the Dominican Republic to spend time with the children and deliver hands-on art workshops over a number of days, with the sessions culminating in a group project for public installation. BRIC’s community investment begins in Brooklyn through our Arts for All approach but extends far beyond.

Free Public Programs

Coffee & Conversation: Bordering the Imaginary
Saturday, March 17, 12:00-1:00pm
The event features a gallery talk with curator Abigail Lapin Dardashti and exhibition artists Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Scherezade Garcia, Fabiola Jean-Louis, and Freddy Rodríguez, who will provide an in-depth discussion of the context surrounding the exhibition; free coffee included.

Facing Contemporary Hispaniola: Panel Discussion
Wednesday, April 4 at 7:00pm
Curator Abigail Lapin Dardashti moderates a panel discussion with exhibition artists Patrick Eugène, iliana emilia garcia, Alex Morel, and Nyugen E. Smith, who will discuss their work and offer perspectives on the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Free Tours for Groups & Individuals
Wednesdays, 10:30am & 11:30am
Visit for more information.

Haiti-NYC-DR: Reflections from the Diaspora
Saturday, April 28 at 4:00pm; Part of BRIC OPEN: Borders (April 26-29, 2018)
Four leading voices of from the Haitian and Dominican diaspora—including Suhaly Batista-Carolina, Edward Paulino, Albert Saint-Jean,and Ibi Zoboi—discuss their personal experiences of the relationship between the countries, the legacy of their intertwined histories, and the unique character of the Haitian and Dominican life in NYC, through a public program and essays. Essays available at
This program is presented in partnership with the Haiti Cultural Exchange.

Conference: Art and Literature in Contemporary Dominican Republic, Haiti, and their Diasporas
Thursday, March 15, 1:00-8:00pm at The Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room C198, New York, NY

This conference, organized by Abigail Lapin Dardashti, explores the production of literature and visual art by contemporary artists and writers in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and their Diasporas. More info at

Bordering the Imaginary: Art From the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Their Diasporas

Abigail Lapin Dardashti, Guest Curator
On view: March 15 – April 29, 2018 at BRIC House
Located at 647 Fulton Street (at Rockwell Place)
Opening Reception: March 14, 2018, 7-9pm
Sponsored by Goya

National Geographic Expeditions Wants You To See The World



If you have 24 days to spare, National Geographic Expeditions wants you and the one you love to see the world like never before.   Although you don’t have to go to the end of the earth, you will go around the world while staying in some of the world’s most luxurious accommodations while traveling on a private jet.

The specially outfitted Boeing 757 is designed for the ultimate luxury and comfort for long range capabilities. The VIP-configured Boeing 757 private jet offers 75 passenger seats in a special 2×2 configuration, instead of the standard 233 seats. Travelers will get a chance to ignite their passions and wanderlust spirit on alongside a team of National Geographic experts on a 24-day expedition exploring 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Imagine the treasures that await you around the world, from an exotic mix of cultures, languages, and food.

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Samoa, well known for its hospitality, traditional ceremonies, and distinct communal custom, unveils a traditional Polynesian feast.  Visit the royal city of Angkor Thom and then cruise to nearby floating villages on Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. Stay overnight in Nepal and explore the medieval city of Bhaktapur.

But the magic doesn’t stop there, an open-air museum of ancient stone villages awaits you in Easter Island, Chile. Explore one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites in Peru and enjoy snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  Experience the lost city in Petra, Jordon, and explore the open-air market in Marrakech, Morocco. Go deep into the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and get lost in the colorful Tibetan markets, and revel in the world’s greatest monument to love, the Taj Mahal in India.

This is just a snippet of the 24-day Around the World by Private Jet package by National Geographic Expeditions.  The Around the World package offers its guests a truly sublime experience.  Designed to suit those with the most discerning taste, National Geographic Expeditions will have you falling with the world as your backdrop.


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First Tom Ford Beauty Store Opens in London



The first Tom Ford beauty standalone store debuted on November 20, 2017, located in historic Covent Garden (3 The Market Building), this store is a pivotal moment in the evolution of the brand.

Highlighting Tom Ford collection of makeup, skincare and fragrance for women and men, each room in the 130 square meter store features its own enhanced shopping experiences, equipped with various digital technologies that unite technical innovation, bespoke sculptural design and the most coveted customer services.

Enter Tom Ford’s personal scent laboratory on the ground floor and explore the Oud and Neroli Portofino Collections, the Tom Ford for Men skincare and grooming collection and a luxury gifting station. A dramming bar offers customized services, from luxury sampling to scent styling. Also on the ground floor is an intimate room that offers personalized makeup services and demonstrations by a Tom Ford Beauty Specialist. For the first time, customers can record their makeup applications for use at home as a personalized how-to, sent with a shopping list of products used throughout the service.

On the lower level you will find the Private Makeup Services Room for appointment-only services bookable online and in store, with Tom Ford Beauty Specialists.  There is also a VIP/Event Space for private cosmetic and fragrance one-to-one consultations. Experience the Tom Ford  Grooming Room, London’s most luxurious space for men. Guests can choose from a range of exclusive grooming services by an expert barber, including a Beard Trim, the Express Facial, and a classic hot towel, close-cut Wet Shave, all bookable online at



Relive Tom Ford Women’s Spring/Summer 2018 Collection at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City on September 6, 2017.


The first food publication focused on cooking with cannabis debuts

Because of the legalization of cannabis, more and more people are using cannabis in creative ways.  One way cannabis is being used, is in cooking, and I’m not talking about baking brownies.

Cannabis is legal in more than half of the world, the legality of cannabis varies from country to country.  The medicinal use of cannabis is legal in a number of countries, including Canada, the Czech Republic and Israel. Medical cannabis in the United States is legal in 29 states as of December 2016.

Consumers across the country now have a print and online resource who want to cook or entertain with cannabis.  Kitchen Toke, which came off the press earlier this week, is a quarterly food magazine on cooking with cannabis and understanding its benefits. Accompanied by a digital component, Kitchen Toke is the first title independently published by three former colleagues with expertise and extensive experience in food journalism, design and business.

David Plunkert, who’s best known for his poignant New Yorker illustrations, created the magazine cover and  introduces the inaugural issue with a section on the industry game changers, individuals representing their specialty and how they’re leading the cannabis and food landscape.

Kitchen Toke - Cover Photo

The publication is setting a new standard in cannabis publications through its creative direction.  Beyond the print edition, readers will find rotating content and recipes from the magazine as well as digital exclusives and instructional videos on  When I headed over to the kitchen toke site the visions of “Sticky Maple Butter Cinnamon Weed Bread” danced in my head, and then, curiosity got the best of me. Full Recipe Below:

Sticky Maple Butter Cinnamon Weed Bread


3⁄4 cup maple syrup, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon cannabutter,
1⁄3 cup toasted walnuts, crumbled
2 canisters prepared cinnamon roll dough
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or nonstick spray


In a small saucepan, heat maple syrup and stir in butter to melt and incorporate. Pour half of the mixture in a 9-inch bundt pan greased with butter or nonstick spray and sprinkle with half of the nuts. Layer with one roll of the cinnamon buns. Pour the remaining maple syrup mixture on top (reserving 2 tablespoons) plus the remaining nuts and layer with remaining roll of dough.
Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove, place on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plate and brush non-sticky areas with remaining maple syrup mixture. Makes 8 servings, each about 4 mg THC.

The print version is available at retail ($16.95) at select independent retailers and dispensaries and can be purchased at

Peach & Lily Brings the Korean Beauty Experience to Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Peach and Lily store

Alicia Yoon, renowned Korean Beauty Expert and Founder & CEO of K-Beauty e-retailer Peach & Lily,  has partnered with Bergdorf Goodman to create an in-store pop-up shop at its New York City flagship location at 754 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Reminiscent of a Seoulite’s powder room, the pop-up shop is now open to the public, and will run through Spring 2018.

“We could not be more excited to partner with Alicia Yoon on this innovative concept,” said Angela Welcome, Buyer, Cosmetics at Bergdorf Goodman.  The pop-up will feature five brands, four of which will be exclusively sold in-store at Bergdorf Goodman’s NYC flagship, and online at and

Yoon, a licensed esthetician in both the U.S. and Korea, will be available (by appointment only) for facial bookings in the Bergdorf Goodman Treatment Room at the flagship location.

The curation includes the following K-beauty brands:

Femmue — Luxe botanicals and sublime scents combine for a floral sensorial experience. Femmue offers high-grade ingredients infused in indulgent formulas, that both perform and pamper.

Abib — Abib means “the first month” and “ears of grains” in Hebrew. This idea embraces the brand’s philosophy of perfecting an item at its most perfect and purest form, which extends to their ‘essentials only’ ingredients and potent formulations.

Eco Your Skin – one of the leading innovative brands in Korea, known for creating never seen before textures and super potent formulations with professional grade results.

JUNGSAEMMOOL- high performance makeup and skincare created by renowned Korean makeup artist, Jung Saem Mool. Formulated with uncompromising and unique pigments, Jung Saem Mool has become known for fostering self-expression and innovating beauty to the next level.

Atoclassic — With over 100 years of herbal medicine practice, the legendary WOOBO clinic in Seoul launched a plant-based skin care line which caters to even the most sensitive skin type.

Runa Ray Showed New York City That Sustainability Can Be Beautiful During New York Fashion Week

Not just a fashion designer, but a designer that uses her fashion to make a statement, Runa Ray showed New York City that sustainability can be beautiful with her Spring 2018 collection during New York Fashion Week. “Together we can save our planet from ecological waste and fast fashion. Fashion can be a powerful tool to educate and push people to join in saving and preserving our planet” said Runa Ray.

Runa Ray was Born of Indian heritage and did her schooling in Bangalore, a city in the south of India.  After completing her studies at the Fashion at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (India) and receiving the Best Design award for her final collection, Runa Ray moved to Paris to pursue her masters in Garment engineering under the Paris Chamber of Commerce at the Ecole Superieure des Industries du Vetements.

During her time in Paris she learned the fine art of Haute Couture while working with some of the most notable designers in Amsterdam and France, like John Galliano and the House of Dior, and decided to fuse it with her knowledge of ready to wear.

Her Spring Summer 2018 runway collection, named Imagine, opened with a series of neutral cream silk pieces printed with leaves and florals in a fossilized motif. Oversized, asymmetrical flutter sleeves were a theme in both her ivory and blush pieces sprinkled with a hint of sparkle detail.  The collection displayed a variety of silhouettes extending from dresses, jumpsuits, to separates, and menswear.

Closing the show was Runa Ray’s The Bleeding Dress scripted with Imagination is the Only Weapon Against Reality made quite an impression with the audienceNotable attendees included wrestler Tami Roman of Basketball Wives, WWE star Danielle Moinet, actress Maria Cotto, Diandra Barnwell of So Cosmo, and Az Marie from Empire.

Runa Ray founded MOJO Design Studios with its manufacturing based in India in 2012. Soon to follow were retail expansions of Mojo a RTW line in Southeast Asia with its head office based in Singapore and Mojo Designs International with its office in London for Europe.

House Rules: A New Taste of St. Croix with Chef Digby Stridiron

After years of playing the rules, Celebrity Chef Digby Stridiron has put his cards on the table and has changed the game and the status quo of what is considered fine dining in the Caribbean with his new restaurant balter in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.  And yes, the cliché is true, Virgin Islanders don’t really need a reason to have a party. As long as there is good food, music, and people… it’s a party. So just in case you were wondering the meaning behind the name balter, it means to dance artlessly, without particular grace or skill but usually with enjoyment.


Stridiron who is well-known to the global community of food enthusiast around the world, has orchestrated eloquent events for a client list that includes, but not limited to, celebrities like NFL star Kerry Rhodes, Vivica Fox, and Basketball Wives of LA. Stridiron who eventually went on the road with recording artist Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, ultimately succumb to his true calling of becoming one wicked Caribbean Chef, as well as, the Culinary Ambassador to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stridiron, who once upon a time had humble beginnings as chef de partie of the highly acclaimed upscale restaurant Luma in the Park located in Orlando, Florida, returned to his native land of St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands with a culinary bag full of tricks. Trading in the hustle and bustle of the mainland for the tight-knit community of St. Croix, Stridiron brought with him a new way of dining that illuminates a dimension of Old World Caribbean cuisine with a modern twist, along with a farm-to-table and farm-to-glass concept, taking the concept of farm-to-table to an entirely new level in the U.S. Virgin Islands.


And although the concept of farm-to-table may not be new to some, the concept of farm-to-glass will be new to many. Signature cocktails at balter use only the best local vegetables and fruits grown on the island. Together with his co-owner, Sommelier Patrick Kralik, both Stridiron and Kralik are determined to use the best of what the land and sea has to offer, creating a forever changing menu both in the kitchen and at the bar that reflects the current season in St. Croix. So if it’s not in season… then it’s not on the menu.

 And when it comes to the past greeting the present, Stridiron is no stranger, balter  is located at the intersection of Company Street and Queen Cross Street in Christiansted in a 250-year-old build with a unique history of its own, and has been reinvented to meet the needs of the restaurant, while still conserving the key elements of the history of the building. The dining room at balter has a view into the kitchen, making you feel like you’re a part of the family and the culinary experience. The art hanging gracefully on the walls pays tribute to the people of the island, the mesmerizing culture, and local artists.


Stridiron produces culinary experiences that are so alluring, and unique, there is probably no other chef that can lay claim to the charismatic culinary experience paying homage to Spain, England, Holland, France, the Knights of Malta, Denmark, and the United States; representing the seven flags of those who once governed and currently governed the U. S. Virgin Islands, while still preserving and honoring the diversity and richness of the Caribbean, African, Indian and Latin American people of the U.S. Virgin Islands.


balter should not be considered just your ordinary Caribbean restaurant, it’s an experience, not just simply a place to dine.  Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art, and you should think of Chef Digby Stridiron as your artist, and your plate…Your Masterpiece.  You have to experience balter with an open mind and an empty stomach ready for an gastronomical journey. The menu has an eclectic take on traditional Caribbean dishes with a fine dining setting, as well as, a less formal setting with a separate menu in its courtyard, which makes the culinary experience even more exciting for us food enthusiasts.

Stridiron’s signature fusion speaks loud and clear and is well reflected in balter’s menus. Order a bowl of  the popular dish kallaloo and fungi, a soupy stew that gets its roots from West Africaand you will receive a dish that takes you beyond the limitation and boundaries of the traditional kallaloo and fungi found in the Caribbean. Kallaloo and Fungi served at balter will leave you filled with love, pleasure, and guilt. Why guilt? I’m glad you ask. This is not your grandmother’s traditional recipe, even the local favorite pork belly gets to be the star of the show and is served with a modern twist.  And what can be better than grandma’s recipes passed on from generation to generation? Well… stop by balter in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and find out.    Just don’t tell Grandma.    Or better yet…take Grandma to balter for a special night out.  And don’t worry, balter aims to please with their made to order dishes, so I guarantee you,  Grandma will love balter just as much as you do.