Cover Story: Riding with Death

Jana Braziel, author of Riding with Death: Vodou Art and Urban Ecology in the Streets of Port-au-Prince, explains the cover of her study of urban art in Haiti--why she chose a vivid photograph by John Cussans. 

When I first saw the digital image of John Cussans' spectacular photograph of the Grand Rue alit at night and alive with creative, artistic energy, I knew that it was one-of-a-kind: the beauty of the Port-au-Princian sky with the cerulean blue-hued light and end-of-sunset shadows cast over the city from the surrounding peaks of Gros Morne; the labyrinthian path leading to Eugène's lakou; the lwa masoleum of sculptures gathered outside the gate--it was all so perfectly evocative and representative of the themes that I had been writing about in Riding with Death.  

When I asked John if I could use the photograph as the cover for Riding with Death, he immediately and graciously agreed to do so even though he was also finishing a book entitled Undead Uprising (MIT, 2017). I am so grateful to John not only for his generosity of spirit, but also for his intellectual engagement with my own ideas about the artists and the art work at the Grand Rue. It was a creative synergy that fueled both of our thoughts and writing processes. I am grateful for those gifts and for his willingness to share the photograph gratis.