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For Haitian Artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, Home is Where the Heart is

  • Alex Villarreal

Every artist has an inspiration. For some, it's a person. For others, it's a place.

Hard at work in his Miami studio, Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié pours his roots into his art.

“What I try in my work is to show that Haiti is a very complex place," he explains. "It has a very convoluted history, interesting history, and that’s worth looking at. That’s worth studying.”

For more than 30 years, Duval-Carrié has focused on Haitian themes: a people once colonized, viewed as disease-ridden.

"I’ve been downloading bacterias from the computer. And these are little collages that I’ve been doing," he explains. "They’ve been saying that Haitians carry all sorts of diseases so I’m playing with the idea."

And then there's Voodoo - that hybrid religion born among African slaves brought to Haiti.

Voodoo gods are a major part of Duval-Carrié's work and many Haitians' lives, he says, despite others' negative views of the religion.

“They have constructed that religion as something completely off the wall, but it’s not,” Duval-Carrié insists.

Last year, he even incorporated a Voodoo deity in a piece on Haiti’s earthquake.

“She’s under Earth this time and holding up what’s left of the cathedral,” he says as he shows the work of art.

He says it shows that Haitians have to draw upon all available resources for strength.

“Voodoo to the help of Catholicism," the artist jokes.

Bernice Steinbaum owns a gallery featuring several of Duval-Carrié's works. She says Haitians feel the need to hide Voodooism, but Duval-Carrié is helping change that.

“He has given faces to the Voodoo gods. Heretofore, we would read about them, and we would talk about them but we never could picture their faces,” Steinbaum says.

And back at his studio in the heart of Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, Duval-Carrié's other contributions are visible. He co-founded the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance to support Haitian art and culture.

“Organizing cultural events, I mean that’s my passion," he says. "And as soon as we got here, we founded the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance and we’ve been in existence practically as long as I’ve been here.”

Duval-Carrié hopes people will continue to pay attention to Haiti beyond the catastrophes it has suffered.

“It really didn’t have to take 300,000 deaths for everybody to focus their lights on Haiti,” he notes.

And as long as he’s producing art, it will be hard not to take notice.

Slideshow of Duval-Carrié's studio and art