Cap Haitien door

Andrews' resonant photographs of the painted wooden doors that are typical of Haitian Kreyol architecture provide an opening to a world that most of us have been previously blind to.  They provoke the question--what are these beautiful things, and what do they mean?


Haitian buildings are relatively simple and straightforward--there are "riffs" on two types, the Ti Kay (small house) with the gable end fronting (what Americans call a "Shotgun Shack") and the "Creole Cottage", with the eave end fronting.  Galri (porches) mediate between the private interior and the public access.  Expanded beyond one story, the Ti-Kay becomes the "Kay Chamhot" (tall house) and the cottage becomes a townhouse.


In this context, color and ornament serve several essential functions--they celebtrate, they distinguish, and perhaps most critically--they serve as identification, of building components and of ownership and control of real property.  Within the historical legacy of Haiti the critical importance of this aspect, of ownership and control of property and by extension, on one's own body, will and actions should not be underestimated.