The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA) will showcase “After the Rain Comes Light: Portraits of Resilience,” the first collaborative museum exhibition by Miami-based artists Morel Doucet and Stephen Arboite, through September 26. The new original, collaged works will be on view both inside and outside of the museum building.
Inspired by the lora, fauna, and people of North Miami, the artists honed their skills in a series of nine collaborative portraits. The exhibition was derived from a social media open call to North Miami residents and visitors to share their own portraits.
Doucet and Arboite then created the nine collages based on these submissions, incorporating local plants, leaves, and flowers from the neighborhood’s streets and green spaces. The gesture of meshing the silhouettes of individuals with local greenery produces both a tender, yet firm, position of intention, identity, and place, a reaction against the accelerated pace of development that aggressively seeks new land and causes displacement.
“When we explore each neighborhood, we can see they are in some way sacred to the people who live there,” said Arboite and Doucet. “The land harbors [the people’s] cultural history, legacies, and shared nostalgia. Tropical foliage and front yard gardens are like gatekeepers of time—they anchor the dreams and hopes of the people.”
Doucet, a graduate of New World School of the Arts with the Distinguished Dean’s Award for Ceramics, showcases his two-dimensional practice. The works are created using mylar, aerosol paint, ink, indigenous plants, and coffee filters, and build upon a trajectory in Doucet’s body of work which tracks and reveals the conflicts of what he calls “climate-gentrification.” His artwork celebrates the uniqueness and beauty of the African diaspora within Miami’s historically African American neighborhoods—Little Haiti, Overtown, Allapattah, and Liberty City—and over the past several years, Doucet has gathered various flora and fauna from these communities to create ecological drawings in the forms of abstract portraiture of the residents that live in these districts.
Arboite brings delicate line work, composition, and a sensitivity to texture honed through his studies at Purchase College for Drawing and Painting in New York. At times, the surfaces of his works appear to be derived through alchemy, with natural cracking and fissures resembling the baked surface of the earth or geological crystallizations caused by ancient chemical reactions. Similarly enigmatic, the titles of the works cannot be overlooked as colors and forms emerge through their poetic sensibility (e.g. The seeker under the sun, Today I saw the water, and it brought me closer to self, To Glow Under the Rose Moon, and Caramelized Brown Skin Dances in Sultry Summer).
MOCA North Miami exhibitions and programs are made possible with the continued support of the North Miami Mayor and Council and the City of North Miami, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, and the Green Family Foundation. “Art on the Plaza” is presented by MOCA, with Major Support from the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (NMRCA).