and wind chimes, made from various types of materials, which sang and clinked in the morning breeze. I
knocked on the door of Araceli Hunter Krohn’s home to ask her about her new works and art exhibit.
Lita, as she is more affectionately called, is currently preparing for her new exhibit La Luna, Las Sandias
y Ellas (The moon, watermelons and they [women]). I love that she used a Spanish title for the exhibit to
highlight her Costa Rican heritage. We sat around the table in her sunny upstairs Belize City home while
she showed me invitations from her past exhibits. We also browsed through several Intransits where her
art was featured. One of the Intransits we looked at shared views which I believe are very representative
of her character both as a woman and as an artist.
“The exhibition of paintings by those ‘Triple Trouble’ women artists is titled THREE and it bucks the
system big time. More than one system, too. The systems those fearless women buck are: (1) social, (2)
gender, (3) cultural, and (4) moral.”
These were words used by Andrew Steinhauer to describe the exhibit Three in which Lita participated
with Sandra March and Jeanne Bennett in September 2003.
Reading this, I was instantly transported back to the first time I met Mrs. Krohn. As a General Studies
student at SJCJC students are required to complete at least 8 credit hours of History. I decided to take
Belizean History with Lita Krohn. She entered the classroom briskly, set her brightly coloured handbag
on the desk and introduced herself. “My name is Lita Krohn and I would like to begin by saying that
History is His Story.”
Right away I knew that I would be seeing Belizean history in an entirely new light and not through the
eyes of the ‘big boys’ club’ as she referred to it. And this was surely the case, Lita always tried to show
us history through various sets of eyes. She especially enjoyed showing us history with perspectives
which were not widely discussed for example: the Maya and Garifuna perspectives of Belizean History.
She never discredited any popular, more accepted versions of our history, but she always tried to make us
realize that there were other sides to every story and that we must hear most, and if possible all, before
coming to any conclusions.
Krohn is a historian, but she is also an artist and a poet. When discussing her artistic origins, Lita said
that she has always loved painting and drawing. She said that her favourite class at SCA was art class
with Sister Reginald. A few years later, she took some art classes with legendary Belizean painter Louis
Belisle at the old Bliss Institute. Her interest and formation were further nourished by art books she
received as gifts from her aunt. When Lita went to college, she did some art courses like Basic Colour
and Design, Print Making and Art History.
I could see elements of these disciplines as I sat in her home. The walls of her home are garnished with
paintings from Pen Cayetano, Manolo Daza, and Omar Sanchez just to name a few. On her coffee table
are countless books and magazines on art and history along with Belizean classics like Brukdown. Seated
on a small table, beside a stairway that leads to the first floor of her house, were some slender, armless,
wooden angels with punched-tin wings, which are typical finds in traditional Mexican souvenir shops.
Right behind these were two small baskets filled with old glass bottles, most possibly retrieved from the
Belize City coastline. She had once told us a joke in class that the country was built on mahogany chips
and rum bottles, a legacy from the Baymen. Even the Costa Rican delicacy Gallo Pinto recipe, a tiny
painting of a rooster and a huge plate of rice and beans, was mounted like a Picasso in her kitchen.
These kinds of cultural fusions are typical to Lita, as she mixes Belizean, Latin and other cultural elements
in her paintings. She would for example paint a Botero-esque woman reclining on a sofa, reading Belize
Times and an Amandala with long red manicured nails.
Everyone who has ever seen Lita’s paintings knows that there are certain recurring themes for example,
women and their lovemaking or relationships, and watermelons. I finally had to ask Krohn, to explain
her fascination with this fruit. She said that she had once met the consul of El Salvador who gave her an
account of what Roberto D'Aubuisson, the military opponent of Napoleon Duarte, said of him: ‘Napoleon
is like the watermelon: green outside but red inside’ inferring that Duarte was a communist and not to be
Lita said she liked the simile, and is not afraid to be perceived as a socialist. She has made the fruit the
leitmotif of her work. If you look beyond the pastel green rind of her paintings, you will manage to
see “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” a phrase that Louis Blanc used
to describe socialism. Beyond the history of painting and pastels that some know are themes like love,
sexuality and desire which we all live, know and can relate to.
La Luna, Las Sandias y Ellas promises more paintings of romance, femininity and the subtle revolution.
The exhibit opens on February 4, 2012 at the Secret Garden in Placencia. The exhibit is open to the public
and food and drinks will be on sale. The exhibit will be on display at the Secret Garden for one week
before it is moved to the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival, February 11 and 12.