Sea Changes

Three very different artists make for one intriguing experience at the Coral Springs Museum of Art

A rare figurative piece at the edge of Campbell's territory makes an apt transition from his work to that of Carrié. Black Goddess is a large, thin slab of terra cotta washed with copper and manganese, portraying an elegant, gazelle-necked African woman's face in profile, gazing heavenward.

Not far away is the first of several of Carrié's Vaudou Parthenum bronze heads -- stylized black busts that suggest the African influences on Haiti's multicultural voodoo traditions. They're not masks, exactly, although they have the aura of items used in some sort of ritual.

As his artist's statement makes clear, Carrié is well aware of the historical and cultural baggage still affecting life in his native Haiti, and the social and political turbulence of his homeland makes its way into his work, sometimes in startling ways. Admiral Croc (2000), a caricaturish portrait of a military officer as a crocodile, is heavy-handed, while a large mixed-media piece called Dambalah,situated in its own alcove, is especially resonant.

Honk if you love the captain: Porcupinefish (2001)
Honk if you love the captain: Porcupinefish (2001)

Details

On display through November 23. Call 954-340-5000.
Coral Springs Museum of Art, Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs

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A big, bald, flame-sprouting red head occupies the center of the image, flanked on the right by a boat filled with tribal people and a group of palm trees. On the left is a city skyline behind a huge warship. In what looks to be a stylized ocean beneath the head, a giant serpent writhes. And four small model planes have been affixed to the sky above the cityscape. Although the piece was created in 2000, it seems eerily, if obliquely, prescient of 9/11, as well as an evocation of the colonialism that is such a large part of Haiti's legacy.

Nearly a dozen similar pleurers (literally "criers"), rendered in acrylic and resin, are more subtly political. Each features a pair of disembodied crying eyes, a downturned mouth, and rune-like forms. The frames are decorated with different patterns, and the surfaces of the pieces have an icy-looking, glazed appearance. Given their context here, these works could be outpourings of grief for all the political tragedies, international and domestic, of our time.

The exhibition begins or ends -- depending upon where you start -- with Le Grand Agowe Taroyo II and La Divine Aizen Velekete II, a pair of mixed-media busts, glowing red from within, on pedestals, artificially aged with a crude white finish. Like so much of Carrié's work, they're grand, dignified, mysterious, even a little unsettling. I thought of a line about the Sphinx from Yeats's "The Second Coming": "A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun."

O'Keefe often says, almost apologetically, that her facility is one of the most conservative in South Florida. But with shows like these three, I think she sells herself and her museum short.

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