The University of Iowa

Haitian-born artist speaks about paintings

March 1st, 2011

By Julia Jessen, The Daily Iowan

The painting Endless Flight uses the bright, vivid colors of the Caribbean as it articulates shapes and forms across the surface of the canvas, infusing the piece with life and meaning.

Haitian-born artist Edouard Duval Carrié created this intriguing painting. He will deliver a lecture about his native country at 5 p.m. today in 2520D University Capitol Centre.

“The artist can be a powerful voice in the community in order to draw people’s attention to arts and culture of different groups around the world,” said Loyce Arthur, a University of Iowa associate professor of theater and codirector of the Caribbean, Diaspora, and Atlantic Studies Program.

Carrié, whose work is exhibited in the Figge Museum in Davenport as well as many other prestigious museums, will speak about his efforts in Haitian relief after the 2010 earthquake as well as his art and his role as a curator of several Caribbean exhibits.

“It’s a daunting and bewildering kind of thing, the situation in Haiti, but I try to do my best with the artists,” he said. “All artists in Haiti are in distress, so I try to help them and place their work in the best possible way in prestigious galleries.”

Although the first images that jump into many people’s minds when they think about Haiti are filled with poverty, despair, and dire circumstances, Carrié wants people to know that lively artistic conversations take place as well.

“I myself am very interested in contemporary artistic discourse, and I find that there is plenty of that going on in Haiti right now on all sorts of levels, whether it’s literary, filmmaking, or individual art,” he said.

Anny Curtius, an associate professor of French studies and a codirector of the Caribbean, Diaspora, and Atlantic Studies Program, said Carrié’s work fuses his experience living in Puerto Rico, New York, Montréal, Paris, and now Miami, in addition to his home country.

“His work examines the history of Haiti, the genesis of Haiti, but at the same time the suffering that brought the society together,” she said. “So we have this kind of mixture of his cosmopolitan view of the world and his Haitian roots.”

Arthur agreed, saying she related to his work because she found parallels between her theatrical background and Carrié’s installation pieces.

“You become part of the experience with the people who are around you, and you’re in the performance, so it makes it very theatrical in a way, but it also makes it even more powerful because you’re living the experience of the art,” she said.

Curtius said she wants people to come to the lecture and see a view of Haiti beyond the news images.

“People need to come to the lecture to discover Haiti through this art of installation, sculpture, and painting,” she said. “It’s absolutely fascinating.”