Dust Specks on the Sea: Contemporary Sculpture from the French Caribbean & Haiti introduces the visitor to the sculptural works by twenty-two contemporary artists from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Haiti.

Derived from a sentence pronounced by General de Gaulle’s observation of the area from an airplane back in 1962, the exhibition’s title is used to challenge the perception that this region and its artwork are mere specks of dust.

The exhibition presents the work of artists who have common roots like the Caribbean and Haiti but who are not only relating their work to the islands’ past. Some express colonialism, but some have moved in different directions and play various approaches.

vladimir CybilWe have met with Vladimir Cybil Charlier, a native new yorker of Haitian descent. Through the mural she specifically conceived for this exhibition, she decided to represent the region as it was when the ships of the colonialists came. She tries to give us an idea of what it would look like if the ships had sunk back then. For example, she uses all the original names (Karukera, Yamaja, or Quisqueya …) to describe the region, and also many plants and animals on this large fresco.

In the middle of the main floor, we noticed the imposing installation of Hervé Beuze, a native of Martinique. Called Manufacture Créole, the piece made of black wheels and red hands is hanging over a tiny map of Martinique. The sculpture represents a sugar cane factory and the message is hard to miss.

But the metal sculpture of Jude Papaloko Thegenus living in Miami Florida does not make reference to the past of the Caribbean. The artist creates artwork through meditation and trance. And this noticeable piece resembles a ceremonial mask adorned with spikes; a mark of the Vodoo legacy?

Take your time strolling along looking at the different pieces and getting moved by the messages and the art.

Note: This exhibition at San Francisco Art Institute, is a great opportunity to discover a City’s hidden gem. Located a few blocks away from the mythic Lombard St, the original SFAI roofcomplex has been designed by the local firm of Bakewell & Brown late 19th century and incorporates elements of both Italian and Spanish colonial styles.
In 1963, SFAI selected architect Paffard Keatinge-Clay to design an addition to the original building. Clay had previously worked with Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the most technically innovative features of the building is the concrete, stepped roof of the lecture hall, which forms an outdoor amphitheater. It offers a stunning view of the bay.

General Information
SFAI’s galleries are open to the public free of charge Wednesday – Saturday, 12 PM – 6 PM, and are located at 800 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA.
Masks are required on campus.

The exhibition, Dust Specks on the Sea: Contemporary Sculpture from the French Caribbean & Haiti is visible from Nov 18, 2021, through Feb 19, 2022.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm to 6pm
Address: San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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