In Miami, Kathia St. Hilaire Envisions the Divine

Using her novel technique of reduction relief printing, the up-and-coming painter renders a dazzling large-scale mural on carved linoleum that envelops angelic Haitian figures in a starry, fragmented dreamscape evocative of Vodun flags. It conjures Zimbabwe cave paintings, Sistine Chapel frescoes, and the political symbolism of Diego Rivera all at once.

Image courtesy of Kathia St. Hilaire, Fringe Projects, and Perrotin; photography by Zack Balber

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Kathia St. Hilaire, 26, Miami, Palm Beach, and Brooklyn (@kathiast.hilaire).

Title of work: The Pilgrimage of the Soul (2021).

Where to see it: The facade of 148 East Flagler Street, Miami.

Three words to describe it: Small pieces, unknown, and adaptation.

What was on your mind at the time: The function of murals. The idea that mural painters in Mexico around the 1920s were to create true public art for the people could help distance Mexico from its colonial past. The idea that murals cannot be moved—unlike painting and tapestries—and therefore cannot be brought and put in private homes. I thought about how murals attract new local business and help bring customers to a preexisting location that might have been unnoticed in certain communities.

Image courtesy of Kathia St. Hilaire, Fringe Projects, and Perrotin; photography by Zack Balber

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: There are many parts to this work that aren’t finished. They are left gesturally due to my indecisiveness. This work was made out of small 18 x 24” oil-based relief prints. I had to do this because I worked out of three different studios (Palm Beach, Miami, and New York), and this allowed me to put everything in a suitcase.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: Because of how experimental it was. In practice, I usually love to introduce new materials, composition, and color to create a different type of painting language.

One song that captures its essence: That’s a hard question to answer, but I listened to Sampha and podcasts while making this work. 

All Stories