Morel Doucet - Full Circle

Despite having several family members as educators, Haitian-born ceramics artist Morel Doucet ’13 (Ceramics B.F.A.) never saw himself as a teacher. But that all changed when Doucet became an undergraduate course assistant for MICA’s Introduction to Ceramics and Introduction to Poetry classes. “With that exposure, I realized I liked working with college students,” he said.

So after graduation, to combine his new interest in teaching with his lifelong love of art and museums, Doucet became a teaching artist at the Pérez Art Museum Miami — a modern and contemporary art museum that serves more than 40,000 students a year through school and outreach programs. Doucet, who grew up in Miami, embraced the idea of returning to his hometown to further arts education.

While at Pérez, he worked with hundreds of local third-grade students, exposing them to art work in the museum and guiding them as they created their own masterpieces.

“My goals (were) to immerse youth audiences in personalized experiences that instigate curiosity, visual literacy and practical senses as learning tools,” he said. “Through collaborative and explorative learning, students can develop critical thinking skills and abilities to assess their understanding of the world around them.”

In his free time, he also pursued his passion: ceramics that combine flora and fauna.

“For as long as I can remember, the theme of nature has been a pivotal fixture in my work,” he said. “Using direct or suggested human figures, I am interested in exploring narratives of vulnerability, isolation and alienation in my work.”

Vegetated figures fall heavily into Doucet’s creations.

“The root, stem, and leaf are a complex capillary of networks that symbolically evokes an underlying theme of our connections to nature,” he said. “To date, I am motivated by issues of sea water rise, coral reef bleaching and climate change about Miami and South Florida.”

In December, Doucet was one of the featured artists at Art Basel Miami, an annual, international art fair showcasing contemporary art from established and emerging artists. He exhibited pieces from his “White Noise” series, which

“explores the complexities between the living and malleable in coral reef bleaching, nostalgia as a reconstituted memory and the socio-environmental experience of the African diaspora, particularly Afro-Caribbeans, through ecological metaphors of black fragility, skin bleaching and colorism,” Doucet said.

Eager to continue his career in art and museum education, Doucet took a new job in late 2017 as curriculum and tour coordinator for the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami. Doucet develops educational tours for the institute, as well as classroom lesson plans for area teachers that integrate contemporary arts into everything from science and social studies to language arts.

“Art is not separate,” Doucet said. “It goes hand in hand with academics.”

He is also working on a new tour program called “Extended Viewing,” where the institute partners with Miami’s Toussaint L’Ouverture Elementary School. While the details are still being finalized, Doucet will host fifth-grade students at the museum between three and five times a year to view new exhibits. He will also visit them in the classroom and work with the principal and science, technology, engineering, and math teachers to build students’ critical thinking skills and visual literacy, as well as help build their self-esteem, he said.

The majority of the school’s students are Haitian and Haitian-American. Given Doucet’s Haitian ancestry, the project is close to his heart, he said.

“Being an immigrant, a lot of times these students don’t do well on state tests,” he said. “But it doesn’t reflect their knowledge. Often times, English is not their first language. They test poorly because often they don’t understand the writing or the diction. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are not smart students. In this position, we’re finding other avenues and other ways where we can make them become stronger readers and have better critical understanding.”

Doucet said he is thankful for the guidance and experience he had at MICA, especially from Clyde Johnson, the associate dean of diversity and intercultural development; David S. East, ceramic department chair; and Dr. Chezia Thompson-Cager, humanistic studies faculty member.

“From them, I learned the art of compassion, empathy and humility towards others which continues to inform my practice as an artist and museum arts educator,” he said.

Rectangular stoneware of shells, textured materials, glazed and acrylic stained with a green, yellow and magenta gradient, on a green background.
Rectangular stoneware of shells floral decoration and textured shells, glazed and acrylic stained with blue, sea foam green and pink gradient, hung on a purple background.
Rectangular stoneware of shells, textured materials, glazed and acrylic stained with a green, yellow and magenta gradient, on a green background.

Yemaya’s Kiss

Artist
Morel Doucet
Date
2016
Medium
White Stoneware, Glazed and Acrylic Stain
Credit

Courtesy of the artist. 

Rectangular stoneware of shells floral decoration and textured shells, glazed and acrylic stained with blue, sea foam green and pink gradient, hung on a purple background.

True Blue (Melancholy)

Artist
Morel Doucet
Date
2016
Medium
White Earthenware, Glazed and Acrylic Stain,
Credit

Courtesy of the artist

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