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Artist Edouard Duval Carrie branches out but keeps roots in Miami

The Miami Herald
Posted on Fri, May. 18, 2012

Artist Edouard Duval Carrie branches out but keeps roots in Miami

By John Coppola
Special to the Miami Herald

 
"The Messenger,'' by Edouard Duval Carrié, from his exhibition at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, May 2012.

"The Messenger,''
by Edouard Duval Carrié,
from his exhibition at the
Bernice Steinbaum Gallery,
May 2012.

This is my life as a tree, says Edouard Duval Carrié as he singles out an eight-foot-square work that is the centerpiece of his current exhibition at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery.

Purple Lace Tree, a backlit mixed media work on water-jet cut aluminum, depicts a single tree, its serpentine roots not anchored in the ground, its beleafed and flowering branches sprawling above. He describes the lone tree as “standing erect, keeping its dignity, yet rootless.”

The peripatetic artist was born in Haiti in 1954, immigrated as a child with his family to Puerto Rico, studied in Montreal and Paris before moving to Miami a dozen years ago. Here, he says, he found his anchor: “I’m very happy in Miami. I won’t move!”

Duval Carrié also cites the trees as a metaphor for the ecological problems in his native Haiti, which has been severely deforested, as well as symbols of family and history. He has made the images even more concrete by incorporating actual tree branches in his mixed media sculpture, Grand Bois.

Many of the works in his current gallery show, The Three Dimensional God and Goddesses Met Their Cousins The Trees, are back-lighted stencils. Duval Carrié says this Haitinizes stained-glass windows by incorporating the technique used in the oil drum metal cutouts.

Gallerist Bernice Steinbaum recalls asking the artist which vodou god he would like to be. “He chose the god of light,” she says, “and in this show he plays with light.”

Both in his gallery show and in an installation at Davie’s new Young at Art Museum building, Duval Carrié has eschewed the tropical lighting in favor of a dark stillness that conjures up a spirit realm that is simultaneously relaxing and ominous. The subdued lighting and almost cave-like layout of his Spirit of Haiti at YAA contrasts dramatically with the other brightly lit

A Knight Foundation Challenge grant to YAA provides free admission for 2,500 low-income children to experience The Spirit of Haiti exhibition and family workshops created and conducted by Duval Carrié.

“The museum came to me several years ago,” he says, “and asked me to create an environment for kids to learn in. At the time, I was interested in stenciling and mold making.”

Both found their way into his exhibition, which is an assemblage of stenciled cubes, oil drum sculpture, sequined vodou flags and even an altar that form what YAA calls “a story-filled realm of folklore and oral tradition.”

Visitors to Duval Carrié’s installation can trace designs from stencils of the artist’s work and build metal sculptures from magnetized squares and circles. This summer the artist will conduct a workshop teaching children how to make molds and resin casts

“It’s important for us to have an artist like Edouard Duval Carrié representing the cultural life of our community,” says Sandra Trinidad, YAA’s marketing manager. In fact, the artist represents Haitian and Caribbean art to the Miami community as much as he represents Miami to them.

Duval Carrié is Miami’s best-known Haitian artist, but he is also a relentless promoter of other artists from his native country and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Immediately after the opening of the Young at Arts Museum, Duval Carrié was off to Martinque to oversee the installation of Global Caribbean, the first of a series of exhibitions he organized for the Little Haiti Cultural Center in 2010. Martinque is the last stop of a tour that took it to France and Puerto Rico. The third iteration of Global Caribbean will open at LHCC next year.

“Miami is placing itself very strongly in the art market, but Caribbean artists are very seldom seen in Miami,” says Duval Carrié, explaining why he embarked on the series of Global Caribbean exhibitions. “I wish Haitian artists were better in tune with the market here and there were more exchanges between Haiti and Miami.”

From his studio right across the street, Duval Carrié has been a driving force in the creation and operations of the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

“Edouard is a dynamo in our community as an organizer/curator and, of course, as a highly regarded artist,’’ says Miami mosaic artist George Fishman . Duval Carrie is curating an exhibition in conjunction with the symposium at the Little Haiti Cultural Center that was held May 18 and 19 to looked inter-university and professional collaborations aimed at promoting and advancing Haitian culture and society.

Next month, Duval Carrié will also be participating in a collaborative exhibition, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, organized by three New York City museums — El Museo del Barrio, the Queens Museum of Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. It features more than 400 works spanning two centuries

On the horizon for Duval Carrié is an exhibition of Haitian photography that he will curate next year for the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art. Works by 10 contemporary Haitian photographers and ten from outside the country will be on display, offering contrasting visions of how Haitians and foreigners see the country.