Edouard Duval-Carrié: Reimagining Caribbean Roots

In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

The art hung like sparkling portals to another world. Lining the walls of the dim room, lit from above by giant, ornate chandeliers, the pieces glittered in hues of pink and purple, forming tropical landscapes against a black background. To most viewers, the works in Pérez Art Museum Miami's "Imagined Landscapes" exhibit looked like an ethereal paradise.

To artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, they looked like home.

Duval-Carrié spent his childhood in the Caribbean, living between Puerto Rico and Haiti until, at the age of 16, he transferred to a high school in New York. He went on to college in Canada and lived in Paris for about a decade after that. But he never stopped thinking about his island roots.

That's why, when he first came to Miami in 1992, he decided to stay.

"My life has taken me to many places, and I find that Miami has become the place for me," he says. "It's the most Caribbean city in the country."

His timing was perfect. Duval-Carrié and Miami grew up together, with the artist deepening his artistic explorations of the Caribbean as the city transformed into a cultural capital.

"I've seen the evolution of the art scene... It wasn't a backwater [when I moved here], but it was not what it is today," he remembers.

The city has also been an excellent vantage point for studying Caribbean culture as it relates to the U.S.

"I'm interested in history and my homeland," he says of "Imagined Landscapes," which referenced oil paintings of Caribbean destinations by white European outsiders. "The political, the cultural, the social, and all. My work plays a lot with history, but I'm not just a scholar studying history.

"I'm a mixed bag of tricks," he laughs.

Another essential part of Duval-Carrié's process: imaginative use of materials. In "Imagined Landscapes," for example, the works were created using mainly glitter glue.

"Why not do oil painting?" he laughs. "But no, no, no, I want to play with glitter glue all day!"

Duval-Carrié's risks have paid off; in October he was awarded a prestigious USA Artists grant of $50,000. Next up is a giant installation in Paris, a work he describes as "a candy box the size of a building." But he's not leaving Miami behind. Duval-Carrié will also curate the 30th-anniversary show of ArtCenter/South Florida during Art Basel this year, which he counts as an honor.

"That center is one of the most enduring institutions in Miami... It's provided spaces and support to many, many artists who have made it.

"So," he jokes, "it's not all in vain."

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.