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Published on December 24, 2019

Vladimir Cybil Charlier

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Three Bust Sculptures, Ms. Zulie, Guédé and Moonlight, presented in Creating Dangerously arise out of a unique collaboration between Vladimir Cybil Charlier, an American born mixed media artist of Haitian descent, and Bob Clyatt an American sculptor with roots in the US from the early colonial period. The artists have developed a process which embraces the full fusion of their different histories and cultures into a single work of art as a way of exploring aspects of pluralism, assimilation and identity in their contemporary American experience.

After a process of joint ideation for a new piece, Clyatt sculpts a streamlined head-and-shoulders bust following traditional European forms. Drawing on one of her signature series, the "Pantéon," Cybil then contextualizes the piece with cultural markers, ornamentation, hair and more, drawing on diverse influences. The resulting piece retraces some of the transformations in venerated archetypes of the Haitian pantheon, such as Erzulie, the goddess of Love. The process provides the artists a sort of laboratory, a place for palpating historical narratives, producing cultural mashups, practicing living with how that feels.

The works also question the historical sculpted portrait bust, the museum artifact produced by a classically trained sculptor fixing his cultural perspective of the ‘subject’ into form for posterity. By purposefully introducing multiple perspectives into the piece at the creation stages these works allow for alternate readings and point toward new ways of approaching portraiture.

Vladimir Cybil Charlier and Bob Clyatt, Ms. Zulie, 2019
Stoneware and patina on steel base, 
22’’ h x 12’’ wide x 10‘’ deep