There’s a thin line between love and Haiti, especially at Davenport’s Figge Art Museum.
The Figge (225 W. 2nd St.) is home to one of the largest collections of Haitian art outside of Haiti. An impressive installation from the Figge’s permanent collection, “Endless Flight” by Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, will be displayed in the fourth-floor gallery beginning Saturday, June 10.
“Endless Flight” is a multi-part altarpiece created at the time of increased migration of Haitians to the U.S. Arguably one of the masterpieces of the Figge’s collection, the work represents the intersection of contemporary figurative painting and sculpture with the unique cultural traditions of Haiti, according to a museum release.
The work casts central Vodou spirits, or lwa, as modern figures: a superhero, an exotic dancer and a soldier. The central wall of the altarpiece, echoing the architecture of a Catholic church, is accompanied by seven sculptural assemblages.
These sculptures are in the form of ships and carts, and carry figures and symbols associated with Vodou spirits like Baron Samedi – the leader of the spirits of the dead, and Erzulie Dantor – the goddess of love, motherhood and vengeance.
In Endless Flight, “The many figures in the boats symbolize floating islands and the idea of being uprooted,” artist Duval-Carrié said in a Figge release. “The Caribbean is not stable, it moves.”
These vessels refer to the historical migration of colonists and enslaved Africans to Haiti as well as the modern migration of Haitians fleeing their country due to political turmoil and poverty.
“The Figge Art Museum is committed to showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Haiti which is exemplified in Endless Flight,” Figge executive director Michelle Hargrave said. “The accompanying sculptural assemblages, symbolizing the historical and contemporary journeys of Haitians, evoke a powerful narrative of hope and struggle through Duval-Carrié’s profound artistic vision.”
Born in Haiti, Duval-Carrié moved to Puerto Rico as a child, when his parents fled the Duvalier regime. His paintings and sculptures explore the history of slavery, colonialism and migration in Haiti. He studied at Loyola College in Montréal and at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris, and now lives and works in Miami.
His first exhibition was held at the Centre d’Art in Port au Prince, which helped launch the careers of some of Haiti’s most renowned painters and sculptors. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions worldwide, including at the Figge in 2005 and 2017. The Figge was the first museum to acquire his work, and his portrait of Dr. Walter Neiswanger, founder of the museum’s Haitian collection, is on view in the museum.
“We are thrilled to once again share Duval-Carrié’s installation, Endless Flight, with the community,” said Figge assistant curator Vanessa Sage. “He draws on a deep knowledge of Haiti and his personal experiences to create powerful artwork that confronts misconceptions and offers new ways to engage with Haitian culture.”
“Endless Flight” was acquired by the Figge with the generous assistance of multiple donors. Supporting sponsor for the exhibition is Brian and Diana Lovett and contributing sponsor is Carolyn Levine & Leonard Kallio Trust. The exhibition will be on view through Sept. 17, 2023.
On Thursday, Aug. 17, there will be a 5 p.m. member reception, followed by a free 6:30 p.m. conversation with artist Edouard Duval-Carrié and Haitian art scholars as they discuss major collections that exist outside of Haiti and how making them accessible to artists and scholars in Haiti and throughout its diaspora are important to the preservation of Haitian culture.
For more information on the Figge, click HERE.