Myrlande Constant (b. 1968) explained how she became the most prominent female artist of the Vodou flag medium during an interview with the author in Miami Beach, Florida, in 2003. At age sixteen, she went to work in a wedding dress factory and went on to create floral embellishment for other kind of clothing, a process that seemed to lead naturally into crafting Vodou flags by 1990. Her first sale of a flag was to Richard A. Morse, manager of the Oloffson Hotel in Port-au-Prince. Subsequent sales of Constant’s exceptionally beautiful Vodou flags were made through the intercession of her husband Charles, who worked at the hotel and touted the flags to hotel visitors.
“I don’t know where I developed the inspiration,” Constant said. “My father is a Vodou priest and also a Christian. My mother served the spirits, but she wasn’t a mambo (Vodou priestess). I have no one to thank except the spirits and God before the spirits.”
The process of flag-making seems to be mystical, according to Constant. “They just come out,” said the artist, told by her father that she is motivated by an ancient spirit. “Everything I put on a flag is supposed to be there. I never went to school. Still, the spirit keeps me working.”
Milo Rigaud’s landmark book, Vévé, featuring symbolic drawings of spirits made on Vodou temple floors, is routinely consulted by Constant for inspiration. Then she incorporates her memories of Vodou ceremonies and knowledge of the spirits into her designs, which begin with pencil drawings on white cloth. She sews sequins and beads on the cloth, mindful of the colors associated with the spirits.
The artistry and uniqueness of Constant’s flags are beyond dispute. She embarked on an ambitious project, creating Vodou flags as large as bedspreads that depict significant events in Vodou and Haitian history. Beyond providing support for her family, Constant is committed to visually chronicling Haiti’s stroried past by means of needle, thread, cloth, and tiny adornments.
From “Masterpieces of Haitian Art: Seven Decades of Unique Visual Heritage” by Candice Russell. Schiffer Publications Ltd, 2013.