Anna Wexler is an interdisciplinary artist and writer who works with text, installation and ritually configured performance to distill specific legacies of structural violence and visionary resistance. Her works have been commissioned for exhibits and events exploring the influence of culturally diverse ritual practices, especially those of the Afro-Caribbean, on contemporary art.
In 2006 she curated a performance based panel on this question for the Women's Caucus for the Arts conference for which she developed a site specific piece based on a successful lawsuit filed by two Haitian workers against the host hotel for illegal video surveillance of the male employee locker room. Her written reflections stimulated by the panel were published in an anthology on art, women, and feminism based on the conference proceedings (Frostig and Halamaka, Eds., 2007). Other projects involving ritually inflected performance and published texts include "Gullah Jack's Bag" (Mobius, 2002) supported by the Puffin Foundation and a research residency through the Avery Institute for African American History and Culture in Charleston, S.C. With the Haitian Vodou priest and performer, Erol Josué, she created and produced this intermedia performance responding to New England's complicity with the slave trade and African Atlantic traditions of resistance. Excerpts from her poetic text for "Gullah Jack's Bag" were published by the Trilingual Press of Eddy Toussaint in the first anthology of the Liberation Poetry Collective (2007) of which she is a member. "Violette Nozière, Revenant" (Mobius and the Pierre Menard Gallery, 2009), developed with musician Patti Deuter, involved the performance based construction of an intermedia ancestral reliquary for a French woman who committed parricide in 1934 to stop the incestuous abuse inflicted upon her since childhood. Her text referencing Surrealist and other filmic and legal constructions of Violette's history evoked in the performance was published in Heide Hatry's paired image and text anthology HEADS AND TALES (2009).
With Catherine Tutter, Anna Wexler is currently involved in an ongoing sequence of Vodou influenced memorial performances for those who perished in the Haitian earthquake, including "Vessel for Haiti III" (Fountain Art Fair, NYC, 2011). She is also nearing completion of preparations begun in Paris and Marseille, France in 2010 toward a site specific commemorative performance for Croque-Fruit, a cooperative that functioned as a sanctuary and desperately needed source of livelihood in Marseille for many artists, actors, militants and Jewish refugees fleeing the Occupied Zone in France and elsewhere in Nazi dominated Europe. With Margaret Bellafiore, she recently completed artist books for the international project, "An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi St." responding to the bombing of the historic Baghdad street of booksellers in 2007.
She received her doctorate in education at Harvard University; her ethnographically based dissertation, supported by the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard and based on an artistic apprenticeship with Clotaire Bazile, a Haitian Vodou priest and ritual flagmaker, was a study of the relationship between healing, creativity and visual form in this ceremonial textile. She has published essays, interviews and poetry related to her doctoral project and subsequent artistically focused research in Haitian and Cuban cultural contexts. She considers the opportunity to participate in the ritual healing traditions of Haitian Vodou and Cuban Santería to be the pivotal moment in her development as an interdisciplinary artist.
Anna Wexler has taught at Lesley University and is currently a faculty member at the Boston Campus of Springfield College, a community based School of Human Services. As a progressive artist and educator, she is committed to experimental cultural work that actively engages diverse ethnic, gender and class perspectives. She is greatly inspired by diasporic avant-garde practices in which artistic innovation and acute needs for social transformation are fused.