Asser Saint-Val is a painter, sculptor and installation artist. His quasi-figurative images, by turns humorous and grotesque, bring together ideas, people and incidents central to modern debates about the definition and valence of Neuromalanin. Rendered in a blend of traditional art mediums and a wide range of unconventional, organic materials—coffee, chocolate, ginger, tea and chocolate among them—his pictures, objects and environments are a surreal fantasia on such loosely linked themes as under-recognized African American inventors, the politics of sexual desire, and the complex aesthetics, narratives and metaphors that attach to the organic compounds neuromelanin.
This theme is perhaps Saint-Val’s greatest preoccupation and is explored to some degree in every work in his oeuvre. His fascination with the materiality of melanin and neuro-melanin, the former responsible for human skin, hair and eye color, the latter for certain dimensions of brain function and spirituality is evident in his play with the unusual, organic “skins” of his paintings. The molecular structure of the compound and the way it operates in the human body are suggestive sources of poetic possibility at the macro level, and are most powerfully linked in his thought and representational practice to profound ideas about the human relationship to the matter and mechanics of the cosmos.
Asser Saint-Val was born in Haiti in 1974 and moved to South Florida in 1988. He earned BFAs in painting and graphic design from the New World School of the Arts. His art has been exhibited in Florida, New York and throughout the Caribbean and is represented in numerous private collections, including those of Francie Bishop Good, Dr. Arturo Mosquera, the Rubell Family and Carlos Sanchoo. Saint-Val has twice received the prestigious South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship Award. In 2012, Saint-Val created his largest piece to date, the interactive public installation The Philosopher’s Stone, with support from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners.
Cumulative and objective, Saint-Val’s work explores the metaphysical reality of this chaotic chemical with an interest in his own identity, with a specific and conscientious artistic voice. Saint-Val believes within us exists the remnant of a universe far beyond our known galaxy, and everything we need to know is within us.
Maria Theresa Barbist and Elysa D. Batista are both locally based South Florida artists that collaborate as the BABA COLLECTIVE. They originally met at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, FL during their individual artist residencies in 2016.
The idea of the BABA COLLECTIVE was born when in discussion of the diversity of artists that were found at the BAC, and other institutions in Miami, they realized the lack of archives providing the ability to access interviews of these individuals. Thus RCS: ROCKING CHAIRS SESSIONS was created. A publicly accessible forum where one could find individual recordings describing the professions, media, and life of South Florida based creatives.
Launching their collaborative endeavor in 2017, the BABA COLLECTIVE seeks to amass a window into the lives and process of SoFla based professionals in the arts.