The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA) is pleased to present “After the Rain Comes Light: Portraits of Resilience,” the first collaborative museum exhibition by Miami-based artists Morel Doucet and Stephen Arboite. The new work will be on view both inside and outside of the museum building. A series of unique banners are installed on MOCA Plaza as part of the museum’s “Art on the Plaza” program and in celebration of Haitian Heritage Month. The original, collaged artworks will be on view in the museum from May 19 through Sept. 26.
Taking as inspiration the flora, fauna, and people of North Miami, each artist brings their unique practice to 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,” stated artists Arboite and Doucet. “The land harbors their 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 here 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 to these portraits delicate linework, composition, and a sensitivity to texture honed through his studies at Purchase College for Drawing and Painting in New York State. 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: “The seeker under the sun,” “Today I saw the water, and it brought me closer to self,” “To walk in Midnight Veil and Shades of Sapphire,” “To Glow Under the Rose Moon,” and “Caramelized Brown Skin Dances in Sultry Summer.”
“We are proud to host this stunning exhibition at MOCA and have the opportunity to work with these talented local artists,” said MOCA Executive Director Chana Sheldon. “This thoughtful project that thrived from the amazing response to the artists’ call for portraits from North Miami visitors and residents further confirms the museum’s dedication to connecting to our surrounding community inside and outside of the museum.”
The installation is curated by Amanda Sanfilippo Long. “Large-scale flags of the portraits were created as part of MOCA’s ‘Art on the Plaza’ series to activate the plaza during Haitian Heritage Month, transforming the museum’s entrance into a space for joy and reflection,” said Sanfilippo Long. “Each flag was attached to a palm tree, soaring to the sky and proclaiming a presence: we are here.”
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).
About Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA) is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences. MOCA began operating in 1981, opened a new building in 1996 designed by Charles Gwathmey of GSNY, and was the first collecting institution in Miami. Under the direction of Executive Director Chana Sheldon, MOCA premiered “AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People” during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2018. “AFRICOBRA: Nation Time,” the next chapter of the exhibition, was selected as an official Collateral Event of Biennale Arte 2019 in Venice, Italy. Original exhibitions include: Alice Rahon: Poetic Invocations, and forthcoming retrospective My Name is Maryan, the first comprehensive retrospective of Polish-born Holocaust survivor Maryan’s life and work. The museum has been recognized with grants and awards from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The museum is located at 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, FL 33161. It is open Wednesday 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Thursday – Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed Mondays and major holidays). Admission to the museum is $10 and free for MOCA members and North Miami residents. For more information, visit mocanomi.org, call 305-893-6211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.