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George Valris

The sequins of Haiti

Residents of Haiti have been practicing vodou for centuries, but, from a Western perspective, it still remains a largely misunderstood religious practice. Traditional Haitian artisan Georges

Valris expands upon hundreds of years of artistic practices to formulate his beautifully adorned, highly distinctive mixed media artworks. Whether in the form of woven and embellished bags and purses or unusual, history-rich wall décor, Valris is inspired by the diverse history of Haiti as well as by his upbringing in the vodou religion.

For works which incorporate textile, fabric is stretched on a frame and Valris traces the design he wants to achieve. Artisans work with needle and thread to attach each bead and sequin one by one. The final step is to line items with intricately stitched, complementary borders. Everything is made by hand, with the exception of some stitch work, which must be done using a pedal-operated sewing machine.

Valris began his creative practice wanting to decorate churches or vodou temples, so he started creating ceremony-specific décor using old or discarded military uniforms, removing their ribbons and shiny brass buttons to be featured as unique, recycled embellishments. Later, beads and sequins became available and those became design elements as well. Today, these beaded flags are designed not just for religious ceremonies but also with the intention of home decorative use. Valris’s woven and decorated purses and wallets offer an even more portable way of displaying his truly distinctive artworks.