The Art that Heals: Spiritual Illness and Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


Art History, and African and African Diaspora Studies


“The Art that Heals” investigates how sacred art objects mediate relationships between humans and spirits in contemporary central African and Caribbean healing ceremonies. The project examines ritual art forms using an interdisciplinary methodology that combines material culture, comparative religion, and ethnography in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two nations directly linked by legacies of the transatlantic slave trade. Grounded in the fields of black Atlantic art history and religion, the book is the first to comparatively theorize the Africana religious art forms of: 1) ritual rattles (bisangu/ason), 2) sacred vessels (minkisi/pakèt kongo), and 3) divine mirrors (ditensi/miwa). From an art historical perspective, the work analyzes the meaning of ritual art objects in African and African diaspora religious communities, while a material culture approach provides deeper insight into how sacred arts embody indigenous knowledge production in the black Atlantic world.