The Associated Press has published a profile of Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié that focuses on the ways in which his work incorporates elements from Vodou beliefs and practices to represent the plight of Haitian immigrants to the United States, many of whom risk dangerous sea crossings to make it to Miami, when Duval-Carrié has been working for many years. Here are some excerpts from the lengthy article, which you can access through the link below.
The officers on deck confront the Voodoo love goddess with broad shoulders and stoic faces, eyes darkened by sunglasses. She pauses on the gangplank, barefoot but resplendent in a gold crown and ruffled pink dress.
The goddess in Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrie’s 1996 painting, “Ezili Intercepted,” is bewildered, bemused maybe, but not desperate. She seems to smooth her hair with bejeweled fingers. Ezili is notorious for charming the men in her path.
Duval-Carrie’s migrant deity is so different from the Haitian migrants photographed with U.S. or Caribbean authorities when their overcrowded vessels founder. Lying prone on boat decks or stretchers, they have no names, no power.
. . .
“The news is so dramatic that I’m pulled right back. When will there be a respite?” Duval-Carrie said recently in his studio in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. “I wish it would go away and I could concentrate on something else.”
But the migrants keep coming, and there are always victims to grieve. The bodies of three women who perished when their overloaded sailboat capsized off South Florida in May were buried recently in a Miami-area cemetery beneath plaques reading “Unknown.” None of the 16 survivors professed to knowing them, and no relatives came forward to identify them.
“It’s one way I can give them importance and respect,” Duval-Carrie said. “There’s a total disrespect here for them.”
He strands the same cast of colorful gods in wooden boats or on rocky shores: the lord of the cemetery in his signature black top hat; the gatekeeper to the spiritual world; the god of healing; the love goddess who resembles Carmen Miranda; the coiled serpent god; temperamental twins; and the skeletal spirit of the dead
Their faces-sometimes serene, sometimes leering-comprise a dual warning. Authorities outside Haiti should respect the migrants’ courage, Duval-Carrie said. Meanwhile, Haiti is losing its identity through constant migration.
In two panels of a recently completed, silver-toned installation titled “Memory Without History,” finely dressed skeletons join the gods’ voyage.
“They’re all dead already,” Duval-Carrie said.
He paints migrants as an expatriate himself. He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1954. His family fled the Duvalier regime for Puerto Rico when he was boy and did not return to Haiti until he was a teenager. The homecoming lasted a year before Duval-Carrie moved to New York to finish high school. He studied art in Montreal and Paris, then settled about 15 years ago in Miami, where he was delighted to find a part of the city called Little Haiti.
“He’s both within and without this profound Voodoo culture,” said Donald Cosentino, professor of world arts and cultures at UCLA. The university’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History is one of three museums in the past decade to showcase Duval-Carrie’s ongoing exploration of migration and Haitian Voodoo, a blend of Christian tenets and African religions.
“He knows profoundly the plight of his own people, but he also knows how that fits into American society,” Cosentino said.
Duval-Carrie first took up migration as a theme in 1989 for a Paris exhibition. “Altar of the Nine Slaves” shows nine green-headed men chained in Africa, crowded into a boat and then at work in sugar cane fields in Haiti.
For the complete article go to http://www.nj.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-9/125414653891810.xml&storylist=entertainment
The painting of Ezili as a migrant above is at the Bass Museum in Miami,